Despite the plurality and nationality implied in the name, U.S. Girls is the project of one Meghan Remy, a Toronto native. This double gag of a moniker is only the first way Remy takes what is familiar and expected and then completely eviscerates it. U.S. Girls’ previous releases are noted for their lo-fi equipment and reel-to-reel DIY-ness, an aesthetic adapted out of necessity. Beneath the clatter has always been an ear for catchy hooks, and her latest album, GEM, is a full realization of her bizarro pop vision.
While GEM is the most traditional U.S. Girls release yet, it retains the edge, following the lead of Remy’s recent, chilling cover of Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine”. On her rendition of “Down in the Boondocks”, she captures the warmth and romanticism of the ’60s AM classic, while simultaneously bringing a corroded, echoed aspect. Even more enthralling is the cover of Brock Robinson’s “Jack”, on which Remy takes the sweet to sinister conversion the opposite direction. Her adoption of the Jack the Ripper persona comes with an almost pained sense of longing, set against a completely disconcerting piano melody.
Besides reimagining vintage pop through discordant textures, GEM also offers a warped take on glam rock. If Gary Glitter ever had a second hit, it might have started off with the swaggering stomp of “Slim Baby”, while the harpischord groove on “Work from Home” could soundtrack a haunted house that goes a little too far. The result of all this reinvention is a brief but unhurried, moody album that brings the hedonistic tendencies of glam and the obsessive undercurrent of Spector’s girl group anthems to light. The last thing we needed in 2012 is another act paying homage to ’60s pop, but when GEM draws from these influences, it’s only to tear them down, reassemble them, and reanimate the remains.
Essential Tracks: “Jack”, “Work from Home”, and “Down in the Boondocks”