U.S. Girls – Heavy Light
- Craig Angus
- 3 March 2020
Meghan Remy's seventh release is flawlessly executed and packed with expansive musicianship
Meghan Remy is one of modern pop's great talents. A master storyteller with a subversive, confrontational streak, through her work under the U.S. Girls alias she's made a habit of exploring the big picture with music that transcends the quick fix and digs deep (notably, the target of 2017 single 'Mad as Hell' was not the incumbent, but the former American President Barack Obama and his pro-military conduct. Heavy Light continues her white hot streak, a treatise on hindsight and memory set to an irresistible soundtrack.
The joy of Heavy Light is two-fold. Sonically it can be viewed as a companion piece of sorts to 2018's outstanding In a Poem Unlimited, featuring the same expansive musicianship (20 session musicians performed on the record, and the arrangements are impeccable, always serving the song) and some of Remy's most hook-laden songwriting to date. She can do upbeat, and she does so with gusto on the disco strut of opening track '4 American Dollars', the carnivalesque 'And Yet it Moves / Y se Meuve' and the magnificent lead single 'Overtime' (an invigorating cacophony with thumping toms, an addictively persistent backing vocal and a screaming sax solo courtesy of the E Street Band's Jake Clemons). She does evocative ballads too, on 'Woodstock '99' and on arguable career highlight 'IOU'.
Remy's execution matches the conceptual ambition she has set. The details reward. The album is interrupted with short vignettes in which Remy's backing singers answer her questions ('Advice to Teenage Self', 'The Most Hurtful Thing' and 'The Color of Your Childhood Bedroom'), their voices initially overlapping and then overwhelming in the unique way that memory and internal monologue does. The inclusion of three reworked tracks from the early days of U.S. Girls, particularly the claustrophobic closer 'Red Ford Radio', contributes to the thematic journey Remy takes us on. Heavy Light is aware of the weight we carry, how complicated everything is and always will be, and searches for empathy amidst the debris. It can be hard given the baggage, but we can only move forwards.
Out Fri 6 Mar on 4AD.