Photo: Krista Schlueter
by Andrew Bosma Ledger Line Music

U.S. Girls | Heavy Light

July 23, 2020

Heavy Light sets the bleak landscape of contemporary society to the sounds of bubblegum pop.

Meg Remy understands human struggle. On Heavy Light, the newest U.S. Girls record, she sings a catalog of challenges she’s faced. Tracks like “Born to Lose” (“And I don’t understand things that I’m supposed to do / the postings on the page seem meaningless”) and “Denise, Don’t Wait” (“I don’t think I can make it / another 24 hours from now / I’ll be gone just like some melting snow”) speak to both the depth and gravity of depression taking hold. Others, like “And Yet it Moves” (“Anyone can see the word is stuck / stuck between a flower and a bottle”) and “4 American Dollars” (“No matter how much you get to have / you will still die”), speak more broadly to the toxicity of systemic class challenges. Remy weaves these experiences together with threads of childhood memories, each vocal skit asking about a different facet of these interviewees’ youth. It’s a rich integration, demanding the listener juxtapose the anxieties v. stabilities of juvenescence with those of adulthood, and one that signals her broader thematic concerns.

As much as 2018’s In a Poem Unlimited felt like a clear maturation of the artist’s previous work, Heavy Light demonstrates yet further evolution, a move toward something more collective, connecting the deeply personal to a massive shared experience. At some point, she’s singing not about just her traumas but those shared and bore in an incredibly cruel world. That this album came out a week before lockdowns began across the world situates Remy’s lyrical content as something almost prophetic. “And Yet It Moves” is a reference to the words that Galileo supposedly whispered as he was forced by his government to state that the earth stayed still, a notion of quiet revolution that particularly registers in the current climate of untruth, whether perpetuated by individuals or an institution. All of these admittedly bleak concepts are carried by a series of fresh pop beats that emulate the genre’s sonic textures from the 60s and 70s, Remy’s own bit of resistance and a bubblegum-tinged reminder that even the acknowledgment of tough truth can breed hope. To that point, and despite the finality that the album exudes when speaking of death and the universe exploding, it lands on something less definitive – an insistence that we can change our outcome if we attempt to change our course. As for the Meg Remy, after over a decade of touring and recording, Heavy Light suggests her course is still just getting started.

Published as part of Ledger Line | Q2 2020 Issue – Part 1.