U.S GIRLS – ” Half Free “

Posted: January 8, 2018 in MUSIC
Tags: , ,

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One of the most memorable moments on U.S. Girls‘ recent album, Half Free (4AD), isn’t a song but a short skit that interrupts the idiosyncratic outsider pop two tracks in. Illinois-born, Toronto-based Meghan Remy is one of our favourite breakout artists of 2015 and her 4AD debut is a magpie’s nest of mini treasures; part soul, part lo-fi rock and hugely rewarding. In an alternate universe Window Shades with it’s piano stabs would be the perfect Bond theme – seductive, cool and rather raunchy.

It begins with Meg Remy calling a friend to tell her about a creepy dream involving her father, then shifts to the two of them riffing on gender, ending with a canned laugh track that somehow strips all the comedy from the punchline.
“I decided to do a skit almost as a joke, but then it turned into something serious because I can’t really do anything as a joke,” Remy explains. “It’s a mostly improvised conversation between me and my sister-in-law, and it kind of ties the record together. It deals with almost all the themes on the record: family, violence and sex.”

U.S. Girls originally started as a solo noise-pop experiment but has evolved into something more overtly pop. On Half Free, Remy enlists an array of collaborators (including her husband, Slim Twig), which takes the collage concept she’s always worked with in a new direction.

Each song is a small story often focusing on the darkness in many women’s lives. She’s repeatedly cited Bruce Springsteen as an inspiration behind her character-driven storytelling, but she says another key influence is Toronto’s Simone Schmidt (of Hundred Dollars, Fiver and the Highest Order).

“Her bravery and her voice totally inspired this record and inspired me to write from the perspectives of characters that aren’t really being heard from. She’s also unapologetically political, and I think everyone should be in this fucking era we’re living in.”

It’s not surprising that she steers the conversation toward politics, since that seems to be how most of her interviews go. While other artists are often preoccupied with making the dialogue all about the music (or themselves), Remy has other priorities.

“I don’t want to talk about myself. Part of the reason I’m doing this is because I’m hoping to reach people and get them thinking about what’s happening in the world. We’re living in such a crazy time, and it’s getting crazier. Part of that is people’s laziness and inability to get active in what’s going on. Everyone is just staring at their phone all day.”

critics loved Meg Remy’s debut for 4AD. With Half Free, the Toronto-based American expat crafted a heady collage of sonic, political and narrative ideas into nine tracks that explore the lives and concerns of working-class women.

Her sixth album is essentially what a glossy major-label pop album might sound like if turned inside out: it runs a gamut of stylistic influences and is full of simple, affecting melodies and hooks, but the guts are on display in its scrappy samples, psychological complexity and unapologetic realism.

Remy writes and sings from the point of view of characters, but it’s her sonic details and vintage atmospherics that beautifully express how the struggle for freedom and equality spans time.

Half Free is one of those records that gets better the deeper you go with it. Easily the most ambitious album to come out of Toronto this year

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