U.S. Girls – Half Free
Half Free sees Meghan Remy’s project U.S. Girls return with its third album, and her first for the eternally eminent 4AD label. Although interesting in intent, the record feels a stifled reincarnation of Remy’s left-field art-pop – as if it’s been brushed off and dressed up for an awkward, formal event. The writing on Half Free is character-led, with each song exploring perspectives of female figures both unusual and commonplace, some fictional and others all too real.
Claiming literary credentials on Sororal Feelings by referencing the long-suffering wife in Michael Ondaatje’s novel, Remy also cites the Katy Perry documentary as inspiration for the album’s best track, Window Shades. In part due to these flitting perspectives, the collection often feels like a collection of cameo appearances in a slightly aggressive late night cabaret show. Remy’s vaudevillian presentation is heavy-handed, at times unneccessarily theatrical, and tracks like the droning Red Comes In Many Shades sound as if written for a line of slowly high-kicking dancers, but without much in the way of wit or invention. Half Free offers a bleak exploration of important matter, frustratingly executed.