U.S. Girls

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Masterminded by experimental songwriter Meghan Remy, Polaris Music Prize nominee U.S. Girls developed from a noisy, abrasive solo act into a larger-than-life pop group. Remy’s fascination with girl group melodrama and eerie soul music grew from cloudy experiments in her early days to ambitious arrangements and detailed art pop production on albums like 2018′s In a Poem Unlimited and 2020′s Heavy Light, and abstracted disco and R&B influences on 2023′s Bless This Mess.
Remy began U.S. Girls as a solo project in Philadelphia in late 2007. Armed with a gigantic reel-to-reel tape machine, her earliest performances included tape recordings of primitive percussion and vocal performances both aggressive and darkly moody. This early phase resulted in two albums released on the Siltbreeze label, 2008′s Introducing and 2010′s Go Grey, as well as numerous 7″ singles, cassettes, and CD-Rs on small labels. During this time, Remy toured the U.S. and Europe extensively, lugging her only-sometimes-functional reel-to-reel around and sometimes traveling via Greyhound bus.
Though her harsh tape experiments remained at the core of the U.S. Girls sound, 2011′s U.S. Girls on Kraak hinted at a change in direction with sample-based songs and a more vivid vocal presence. Issued by FatCat in 2012, the album Gem delivered on the change suggested in that release as well as in ever-reaching live performances. By that time, she had also relocated to Toronto with her husband, Slim Twig (Canadian musician Max Turnbull), who produced the album. It was the highest fidelity of any U.S. Girls release to that point, doing away with harsh drum machines and distorted vocals in favor of a more traditional, live band-style recording as well as faithful covers of glam rock and ’60s AM radio pop. The group’s live performances at this time went from solo to full-band experiences as well.
In 2013, U.S. Girls released Free Advice Column, a four-song EP co-produced by frequent collaborator Onakabazien (Louis Percival), on Bad Actors Inc. The revered indie label 4AD signed U.S. Girls in 2015, releasing a dubby single called “Damn That Valley.” The full-length Half Free arrived in September, continuing the project’s increase in accessibility while retaining the dark moods and offbeat tape loops of earlier recordings. It received a nod for the Polaris Music Prize, making the shortlist. After touring as an eight-piece, Remy cut down on samples and recorded with a live band that included members of the freewheeling improv collective the Cosmic Range. With lyrics reflecting the moment’s social and political distress, the resulting In a Poem Unlimited followed in 2018. The album was among U.S. Girls’ most critically acclaimed work to date, and while touring in support of it, Remy began work on a new set of songs for her next record.
In early 2020, seventh album Heavy Light materialized, another stylistically shifting collection of heady pop featuring an extended crew of backing vocalists and themes of hindsight and nostalgia. It became her third straight album to be shortlisted for the Polaris Prize. U.S. Girls covered the Birthday Party’s “Junkyard” for the 4AD tribute compilation Bills & Aches & Blues in 2021, then returned with “So Typically Now,” featuring backing vocals by soul singer Kyle Kidd, in 2022. The song would be the first single released in advance of eighth studio album Bless This Mess, an album created over a span of time when Remy was pregnant and gave birth to twins. In addition to lyrical themes that jumped between motherhood, technology, and mythology, Bless This Mess was one of the more dancefloor-ready U.S. Girls efforts to date, with Remy dressing her distinctively slippery melodic sensibilities with disco rhythms, layered synth leads, and infectious R&B-influenced hooks. The album included contributions from members of Holy Ghost!, Cobra Starship, and Jellyfish, and was released in February of 2023, again with 4AD. ~ Fred Thomas