Album Reviews

Album Review: U.S. Girls - Heavy Light (4AD/Rhythmethod)

Reuben Raj
U.S. Girls - 4 American Dollars

Toronto-based American artist and producer Meghan Remy ventures further into the world of alternative soul and disco-funk with her experimental pop project, U.S. Girls in latest album, Heavy Light.

US Girls by Colin Medley

Photo by Colin Medley

The rhythm and percussive arrangements immediately stand out in Heavy Light, credit largely to percussionist Ed Squires followed closely by exceptional vocal euphony conducted by Kritty Uranowski. Remy herself navigates the rich and colourful melodies with 20 session musicians in Montreal’s Hotel 2 Tango studio.

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Meg Remy with Basia Bulat and Rich Morel

Canadian folk singer-songwriter Basia Bulat and well-known remixer/producer Rich Morel joined Remy to define the core and co-write songs inside the 13-track album. The album was also mixed by long-time collaborators Maximilian ‘Twig’ Turnbull, Steve Chahley and Tony Price.

4 American Dollars starts the album off with an irresistible disco-funk vibe and it’s easy to see Remy fronting her own 70s all-girl band crooning the words, Shade tassels, shake your ass / We all do what we gotta do to pass / In this world where they say / “It's not personal, it's business”. Politics, gender equality and #metoo still very much intact in the new body of work.

The fun continues with single Overtime which I sense is a further extension of the glorious 7-1/2 minute long Time in previous LP, In A Poem Unlimited. But this time with timpani, conga drums and a rambunctious sax solo by E Street Band saxophonist Jake Clemons, nephew of the legendary Clarence Clemons. Every time I see your grave / I can't help but think / How I didn't know that you only drink / The overtime - but maybe Overtime is just simply about the devil inside a bottle wrapped up in glossy festive paper.

Heavy Light is also a journey back in time as Remy searches inwards… remembering and recounting intimate narratives like motherhood, Objects in the mirror are so much closer than they be… and that’s the trouble with being born / I’m gonna put to bed the shame that I keep / it’s the only way to stay alive - so beautifully portrayed in a woeful piano ballad, IOU. Childhood trauma and dreams are collectively explored in spoken word snippets by Remy and her team in Advice to Teenage Self, The Most Hurtful Thing and The Colour of Your Childhood Bedroom.

The look back in the mirror also includes a re-thinking and remake of State House (It’s A Man’s World) from U.S. GIRLS on KRAAK (2011); making the earlier track glow brighter with an ethereal choral arrangement and a piercing finish. Red Ford Radio also gets the same treatment where Remy’s earlier gothic vocals over synthetic drums in 2010’s Go Grey stand out more prominently against organic percussions and vocal harmonies.

Some other gems on Heavy Light include the Latin infused pop number, And Yet It Moves / Y Se Mueve, retrospective Woodstock ’99 and the brash, dreamy The Quiver to The Bomb. Goldfrapp, come get some!

Meghan Remy continues to take U.S. Girls to new heights with a diverse collection of well-made and delectable songs on Heavy Light… and just like your favourite box of chocolates, sit back and enjoy… maybe share if you got any crumbs left behind. Hands off..! I want my own heavy light. 

Heavy Light by U.S. Girls will be released and available on 06 March 2020. 

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Released: 06 Mar 2020

Written By: Reuben Raj Reuben is a film and digital photographer who is driven by music in his head. Often seen lurking behind a camera inside the pit of a concert or wandering the streets of China with a blond, Reuben harbours intimate feelings for vinyl records and his Hasselblad SW/C from 1965. He is also the founder of Radio 13.