Sound: Dream-like funky disco to blast in your headphones as you strut down the street If you like: Prince, Santigold, Beck Best track:So Typically Now Rating: NNNN (out of 5) Why you should listen: US Girls offer a fun, ethereal approach to the meaning of life through disco bops
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EVER INVENTIVE MEGHAN REMY and her band U.S. Girls go back to the future with their new release, Bless This Mess, a fresh-sounding album that draws heavily on ’70s and ’80s instrumentation to create a modern record not afraid to show its influences.
Power chords co-exist with delightfully cheesy synth-percussion and keyboard washes. The concept for Bless This Mess was, in Remy’s words: “I’m pregnant and I need to make a record.”
This is the Toronto-based experimental pop project’s eighth studio album, and it’s one that shows a lot of maturity yet still remains expansive and excessively fun. It’s an album that deals with change and making sense of it — it covers the body, the pandemic and motherhood. Despite these very real issues, the album still feels like an escape, a window into a synth-filled ’80s fantasy where dancing will make everything okay.
The first few notes of Only Daedalus, the album’s opener, teleport you to a cheesy discotheque. You can feel yourself swaying along to the funky harmonies that decompose the myth of Icarus. In the U.S. Girls world, a man who traps you in a labyrinth is not something to be impressed by.
Remy’s lyrics are fatalist and witty, mixing fantasy with the very difficult feat of making sense of the world we live in. The topics she confronts could easily be met with gloom, but her stance is refreshing and borderline comedic. Bless This Mess is a pandemic record, one that Remy created with remote collaborators. It may feel like a bubble, but it’s in the best kind of way. Songs that Remy describes as “COVID-y” — like Screen Time, a retro-duet about online dating on which Canadian Michael Rault, assists, and Tux (Your Body Fills Me, Boo), a song written from the perspective of a literal tuxedo — could easily exist on a ’50s comedy record. You can almost hear Remy’s ironic wit and eye rolls seeping through the funky synths.
The record’s highs are its anthemic tunes, songs that you can strut down the street to. So Typically Now’s heavy drumline and electro-robotic instrumentals accompany gospel-like harmonies on the woes of gentrification. Remy clearly has a knack for making these human experiences feel otherworldly. Future’s Bet is another stadium-rock-esque tune on which U.S. Girls chooses apathy. “Nothing is wrong, everything’s fine / This is just life,” the chorus reminds us over guitar shreds.
In a musical landscape that is riddled with songs about anxiety and the doom of humankind, U.S. Girls are urging you to turn up the music a little louder and dance along to it all. It’s a refreshing kind of cynicism. Whilst funk is omnipresent throughout, shimmery songs like St. James Way and Just Space For Light create a dreamy, hazy feel where Remy’s fairy-like vocals shine.
Pump is another show-stopper, one on which Remy samples her breast milk pump as a baseline. It seems like a borderline ridiculous and almost pretentious choice, but this track about motherhood and its out-of-body experience fits right into the quirky dreamscape of Bless This Mess.
Bless This Mess is an impressive feat, one that captures the feelings of doom and maturity and makes them fun. It’s proof that making sense of the world doesn’t have to be gloomy — you can still dance along.