Album Reviews

US Girls – Bless This Mess

(4AD) UK release date: 24 February 2023

A sense of irony and love of the absurd shine through on Meghan Remy’s latest articulation of her intriguing vision

US Girls - Bless This Mess Toronto-based Meghan Remy has been steadily ploughing her own path as US Girls for the last 15 years or so, gradually moving from lo-fi experimentation to something rather more polished. What’s never changed is her sense of irony and love of the absurd, which is both Bless This Mess’ biggest strength and, conversely, also its weakness.

For there are a lot of issues addressed on Remy’s eighth album. Written and recorded in the shadow of the pandemic, she’s also given birth to twin boys – so songs about motherhood nestle next to tracks written from the point of a view of a well-fitting tuxedo or a song dedicated to a mnemonic to remember the order of the colours of the rainbow. Whether you find this jarring or delightful will probably influence how you feel about Bless This Mess.

What’s beyond dispute is that Remy’s musical palette has widened impressively since those early lo-fi days. Opening track Only Daedalus has a slink and a strut reminiscent of Christine And The Queens, while Future Bet opens with a knowingly over the top guitar riff before settling down into a more sedate tone. The title track, meanwhile, is a syrupy piano ballad, offering encouragement to anyone struggling under the weight of everyday life, which occasionally slips into cliche: “Thank the sky for the deluge, forget your nightmares, and the dreams that didn’t come true”.

Screen Face, a duet with Canadian songwriter and musician Michael Rault, addresses the very modern phenomenon of virtual dating, with lines like “My phone is dying, and I’m dying too… dying to be in the same room” and “No way is this a date, my screen is not your face” – it’s a fun little concept but the song meanders along a bit too much for its own good.

Remy’s on safer ground with a proper disco anthem such as So Typically Now and Tux (Your Body Fits Me, Boo) which, despite its slightly bizarre premise of an item of clothing singing to its owner, is as infectiously energetic and catchy as anything that Lizzo could come up with. RIP Roy G Biv, the aforementioned tribute to a mnemonic also has a languid, dreamy quality, although the amount of Auto-Tune on guest vocalist Marker Starling‘s voice doesn’t contrast favourably with Remy’s far more effective vocals.

It’s certainly a mixed bag of an album – summed up by the closing track Pump which begins as an impossibly funk/pop song that Janelle Monáe would be proud of, but ends up, over its six minute running time, kind of fizzling out as Remy just repeats the words “you, and you, and you” over and over again. She’s certainly an artist following her own vision: one which may sometimes grate, but is never less than intriguing.

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US Girls – Bless This Mess