Rare is the mess Meg Remy won’t chronicle. Abusive relationships, government surveillance, ecological disasters, capitalist exploitation—somewhat clunky when you spell it out so clearly, but these are the forces Remy’s characters face in her music as US Girls. On earlier records, she delivered these narratives with either solemn resignation or snarling intensity, her edicts of hard-won hope never reaching a clear resolution. On her new album, bless this mess she softens, looking for silver linings where there should be none. Even when her optimism is shattered by banal artistic and middle-aged angst, FaceTime is strange, but perhaps it has a purpose? Music is healing, something like a rainbow? Remy’s quest to find beauty in the midst of a circus of suffering feels purposeful, as a seasoned activist reflecting on how they’ve avoided cynicism after so many years.
Given Remy’s roots as an experimental musician, it’s tempting to label each new US Girls release their “most accessible yet,” but bless this mess it certainly makes a case. After beginning her solo career as a fuzz-crazed, lo-fi noise rocker (a DIY approach that Remy later clarified was less an aesthetic choice than the result of limited resources), she transitioned into making art-pop. that felt tame in comparison. Her projects drew inspiration from ’60s soul, ’70s funk, diaphanous psychedelia, post-punk and synth-rock, and her gestalt wandered between David Bowie and Broadcast, Animal Collective and Robyn. Her work was often difficult, filled with spoken word skits and ambiguous story arcs, grainy mixes that prevented clean arrangements, songs that detailed sexual violence and castigated Barack Obama.
bless this mess it doesn’t shy away from such complexities – there’s plenty of anti-capitalist criticism and interpersonal angst – but it’s a decidedly forward-thinking album. Brighter and more hi-fi than anything in Remy’s catalogue, it draws from ’80s R&B, synth-pop, disco-house, and ’90s shoegaze to create a cascade of bright colors and beats. beautiful, music to match his aggressively upbeat demeanor. The opening track “Only Daedalus” is a golden fusion of R&B and funk that uses ancient Greek myth to comment on the arrogance of our overbearing technocrats, Remy asks, “Where is your soul?” before chiding that “the world is not your wheel”. However, you don’t need to unlock writing to have fun; “Only Daedalus” begs you to lose yourself in the rhythm, to dance before wondering what it all means.
Although bless this mess Preferring retro funk and mellow R&B, Remy recruits a diverse community of collaborators to help her explore different styles. On the sizzling synth-pop cut “Futures Bet,” co-produced by her husband Slim Twig, she suggests we can alleviate existential anxiety by “breathing in, out.” Stop rolling your eyes: Unlike self-help books and profit-seeking CEOs, Remy’s evocation of mindfulness doesn’t read like flimsy bromide, but rather a way to achieve stability through the most available personal care practice. She follows with Ryland Blackinton (Cobra Starship) and Alex Frankel (Holy Ghost!) Produced by “So Typically Now,” an electro-house rule against urban flight and combustible real estate markets. Her criticisms are scathing, but Remy also seems to be winking at the city’s former denizens who have discovered freedom beyond fast-paced, work-obsessed lives.