Album Review: U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited

By Connor Stroff, Contributor
[4AD; 2018]
Rating 8.5/10

Key Tracks: “M.A.H”, “Rosebud”, “Pearly Gates”

2018’s In a Poem Unlimited is Meghan Remy’s (under the moniker U.S. Girls) official middle finger to the men, from the domestic to the professional spheres, who have consistently made the life of a woman a living hell. The album cover features a realistic painting of Remy herself, pores, tears and all, which is intended to represent someone frozen in deep sadness and mourning. It’s a wonderful representation of one of the core ideas from the album; a conscious examination of the universal female experience and an attempt to give voice to the everywoman through the exploration of different identities across time and space.

Remy doesn’t waste time here with any inoffensive, half-conjectured thoughts just to fade in within the crowd. There just simply isn’t room for compliance, as the social power of females once again remains threatened with the resurgence of patriarchal values in our government. The politics stemming from the destructive nature of male aggression seeps everywhere from individual interactions to whole entities like the music industry, which Remy has had years of exhaustive experience with. Dealing with promoters trying to get her to sleep with them for continued promotion, countless creepy male musicians and seeing women fight each other due to believing in the competition, it’s these toxic behaviors which impede the art of making genuine and beautiful music.

The U.S. Girls moniker has never been so relevant up until now. There are a plethora of storybook narratives, ranging from the lust for revenge to take arms against predatory men in “Velvet 4 Sale”, to “Incidental Boogie”, which couples an undeniably danceable rhythm to nauseating lyrics depicting domestic violence. Largely diverging from the lo-fi autobiographical works showcasing “a woman who clearly spends a lot of time in her apartment with the shades drawn” to experimental art-pop focusing her attention not on the idiosyncrasies of the life of a pop-star, but onto characters that highlight the intricacies of everyday people. These stories, whether fictitious or not, come from very real places and perspectives across the country.

Remy uses her talent for spawning catchy pop tracks only to redirect the listener’s focus to her more unique ideas and engaging lyricism. “M.A.H” initially appears as a cathartic relief to the injustices of a past lover, only to discover this song is dedicated to the problems left unsolved by the Obama administration. Not only does she critique his use of drones in the Middle East, a “cowards weapon of choice, but she argues he’s one of many figures in the long showcase of male authority. “I fell, nice and clean, the way you portrayed yourself to me / But lies shone in your eyes,” guilty of deceiving the nation while being generally well-liked and respected.

In a Poem Unlimited captures the strange fate of being a self-identified female, the feeling of constant attack and disappointment that serves as extra baggage to an already loaded fate of being American. It’s becoming harder and harder to find spaces to trust, especially considering the growing list of men in the mainstream previously perceived as harmless only to be revealed as predatory and toxic through multiple accounts of abuse. ‘Pearly Gates’ looks at the extent to which male authority seeps into every corner of life as St. Peter, the very definition of ‘gatekeeper,’ stands in the way of admittance into heaven. Simply “Peter just does whatever Peter likes” and it’s hopeless to resist as in his eyes you’re “just some man’s daughter.”

Meg Remy’s outright refusal for neutrality paves the way for a fresh future, In a Poem Unlimited is equal parts a therapy session recounting survival as it is a political statement, ensuring a vow to challenge the ongoing structures of oppression women continue to face these days.

Listen here:

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