Album Review: "In a Poem Unlimited", US Girls
Well, I’m floored. It’s been a long time since I’ve found a new record with quite the prowess/appeal of this. Being a music reviewer, it’s the exact kind of project I go out of my way to seek out. That’s for a few reasons; this album not only has incredible consistency, but a multitude of ideas and influences packed into it. Megan Remy fronts US Girls and has released a myriad of other projects for the past years; most of them seem to fall under a mix between lo-fi indie and art pop.
But In a Poem Unlimited flawlessly combines elements of so many genres at once. It’s primarily art pop and neo-psychedelia, but incorporates disco, dance, electronic, synth-funk, dream pop, and synthwave. It’s a lavish, layered project that’s an easy listen but doesn’t slack when it comes to attention to detail. Its mixing is phenomenal; it’s mind-blowing how additions like the distorted guitars in tracks like Velvet 4 Sale and Rage of Plastics and the hip-hop inspired beginning to Poem fit in so well.
Isolating a few sonic peaks within it feels like robbing it of great moments, but I’ll do my best to keep it to its highest highs. Velvet 4 Sale’s atmospheric/whispery vocals, native drums and deep synths and bass are a gorgeous, psychedelic whirlwind of sound; distortion closes it out excellently. Rage of Plastic’s use of horns, steady pianos, and funky layers of synths are a little more organic and down to their core. Moreover, it’s hard not to be drawn in by the disco-inspired groove on M.A.H. from the heavy bass/whispering synths and punchy, danceable chorus.
Rosebud is one of the album’s softest moments, but there’s no shortage of detail from the strings to the muted guitars to the delicate vocal performance. Poem’s minimal electronic feel with its steady line of synths, vocal filter, and killer melody makes it one of the project’s most memorable cuts. The layers of sound in Time are mind-blowing; the disco-inspired track incorporates guitars, horns, drums, etc and is a total blast the whole way through. The only culprit I see that could’ve been cut is Incidental Boogie, whose distortion and heavy layers of sound feels like an overload and doesn’t switch up enough for my liking.
The lyrical side of this release only adds to its sophistication. There’s definitely an overarching feminist tone to it, but there are a number of other topics worked in, from failed relationships in L-Over to criticism of capitalism in Poem or of Obama’s presidency in M.A.H. And while these political and social issues do come up in the album, it’s not to the point where it’s overwhelming; they’re sprinkled in tastefully. A good chunk of other cuts seem to be open to interpretation, but every moment is well-written and feels satisfying/important.
Overall, this was exactly the release I’ve been looking for. It’s consistent, packed with ideas, and wastes minimal seconds of its time. It was a lovely surprise, and easily the most exciting and colorful pop release of 2018 so far.