by Drew Cowen (@hi_mynameisdrew)
Since its formation, U.S. Girls has always been one of the more under-appreciated acts in experimental pop. The project, a moniker for the musician Meghan Remy, has repeatedly pushed the envelope of noise incorporation within a pop medium. But Remy has been doing this for over 10 years, and not many people have taken notice.
After a quick glance at Remy’s discography, it becomes obvious that work ethic isn’t the problem. U.S. Girls has released close to an album a year for the past decade. Palatability is no longer an issue either. With the release of her 2015 album Half Free, Remy transitioned into a new career phase of undeniably catchy pop hooks. But Remy has been in the music industry for a long time now, and she still lacks a veritable hit.
Time seems to be a significant preoccupation of U.S. Girls’ new album, In A Poem Unlimited. Though the singer continues her tradition of bold new soundscapes, her voice sounds much more urgent. Perhaps this is most evident on the song “Time.” Remy alternates singing, “When there is nothing there is still time / There is still time, mountains of time,” and “When there is something there is no time / There is no time, canyons of time.” Remy doesn’t have the career stability that aging pop stars hold dear.
It’s this sense of urgency that lends itself to the album’s main theme: the reduction of women in society. U.S. Girls emphasizes the violence women still continually face in a culture still dominated by the patriarchy. On the song “Pearly Gates,” Remy sings, “Never, never be safe even if you're in the gates / give it up, you're just some man's daughter.” Though Remy has built a career and life for herself, her achievements are still reduced to her birth sex.
In A Poem Unlimited demands extreme retribution. Just as the arming of the Black Panther Movement was a direct response to white terrorism, Remy proposes a similar hypothetical solution to sexual violence against women. In “Velvet 4 Sale” Remy sings, “Then, you destroy their hope for deliverance / Don't offer no reason / Instill in them the fear that comes with being prey.” Remy asks a hard question: how would men feel if the violence they subjected women to was reversed?
Obviously “Velvet 4 Sale” is a hypothetical premise. More pertinently, it relates to revenge against abusers. But the idea is still important. In a personal statement, Remy said, “Men are lucky women (and children) have yet to take up arms. And although I hope this never happens and I completely disagree that violence is ever effective, this very idea was ripe for a song.”
Though men are often quick to point out the numerous social advances of women within the past century, oppression is still very ingrained in our society. At a time when a sexual abuser holds the highest office in the country, it’s not hard to see why Remy takes such a pointed stance on sexism. The normalized silencing of women is one of the more dismal cultural aspects that’s bled into the 21st century. But with In A Poem Unlimited, U.S. Girls rises above its’ noise-centered past and speaks out against the reduction of women.