U.S. Girls, a revelation in disco hedonism, glam-rock power and dark electro
With her album “Half Free” released in September 2015, Meghan Remy, a.k.a U.S. Girls, unveiled the scope of her talent caught between disco hedonism, glam-rock power and dark electro. Today she releases her latest video.
Starting to listen to Half Free by U.S. Girls is like setting out on an American highway, the car radio blasting out a brilliant burning symphony of rock, dark electro, dub and disco. A crazy chase a la Thelma and Louise, evoking the most beautiful musical moments of Yoko Ono (Walking on Thin Ice), the early days of Blondie and punk groups like Bikini Kill from the feminist movement Rio Grrrl. With the name of the project, U.S. Girls (plural), American artist Meghan Remy, today living in Toronto, couldn’t better express her ambition to take on the guises of all these women and many more. “I admire Cindy Sherman’s work” she tells us when passing through Paris, “The way she disguises herself and so truthfully embodies all sorts of different women in her photos, I find it fascinating.” The young American recently shaved off her 80s Debbie Harry locks and is now channelling pure Sinead O’Connor. In her music Meghan Remy strives to tell stories about girls, often unhappy, occasionally sordid in the style of Joyce Carol Oates, i.e. is interested in the beauty of her characters and defending their dignity. “I discovered the movies of John Cassavetes just as I was writing the album. He really influenced me. Cassavetes has the ability to make individual stories universal and he always brings out the truth from his characters – good or bad, often bad – without judging them or focusing on the miserable. That’s my only ambition when I write my songs.” Sororal Feelings, a psychotic ballad with Lynchian overtones tells the story of a girl who marries the man who slept with her sisters for money… A story inspired by Michael Ondaatje’s book, Coming Through Slaughter.
Musically the same sincerity prevails. Meghan Remy avoids the pitfalls of pastiche by never trying to reproduce the sounds of an era, but by reviving certain energies, rock here, disco there, and above all by introducing more contemporary dub and electro beats. Thanks to her entourage her album is characterised by a profusion of genres. On the three tracks produced by Onakabazien, the drum is all-powerful, the sound less complex. The beat of the magnificent Woman’s Work that concludes the album is reminiscent of Austra’s majestic compositions, another immense band also living in Toronto. But it’s the rare voice of Meghan Remy – like an instrument that never needs to be tuned because its perfect pitch comes more from her gut than technique – that works on rendering every one of her productions unique. “A voice like a UFO,” she says of herself, deliciously accompanies all the voyages she invites us on. On the track Window Shades, a masterful disco anthem that blends pianos and chords while paying tribute to Giorgio Moroder’s incredible 1970s productions, the sensual voice of a young woman draws inspiration from sexual deviances and backseat couplings. Then as night falls on the highway, her voice becomes that of a crooner – “The first concert I ever saw, aged 4, was Billy Joel” – for moment of mad blues that leads bodies away in a mystical procession (Red Comes in Many Shades). It’s not U.S. Girl’s first attempt to break into the public’s imagination. But this, her third album, at the excellent 4D label, should finally be the one to consecrate her status as a major independent artist who knows how to simultaneously handle glamour and grime.
Half Free, U.S. Girls (4AD). Available on September 25th.
By Thibaut Wychowanok.