“Heavy Light” continues an incredible track record for Meghan Remy, who under the name U.S. Girls has produced a collection of absolutely stellar experimental pop records.
The level of consistency across Meghan’s work is impressive, especially when you consider the genre her music sits in. Experimental pop can, by its very nature, play fast and loose with the form, and in doing so (even for the greats of the genre) it can easily result in misses. Yet “Heavy Light” never loses its pop sensibilities, even when the more experimental elements come into play.
The album opens with a couple of great instantly loveable tracks. “4 American Dollars,” with its hints of disco, and “Overtime,” with its driving percussion, provide some high energy and harken back to the 70’s; a golden age of the genre. Although the music and vocal delivery is exceptionally catchy, the lyrical content certainly reflects the darker times of 2020.
This continues through the album, underpinned by a collection of interview responses to questions that make up the tracks “Advice to Teenage Self,” “The Most Hurtful Thing,” and “The Color of Your Childhood Bedroom.” In this raw form, they show an open vulnerability that can be concealed under the musical accompaniments on the rest of the record.
If you take away the question response tracks, you are left with an album that on the surface sounds (and is structured like) a classic pop record. Its blend of different styles is perfectly paced, moving tempo and energy throughout. This is then elevated by the context the lyrics put them in.
Not one track on this album deals with the emotional simplicities of lust/love that you would hear in more traditional pop. Instead, it weighs up complex, difficult narratives and nuanced characters under the guise of more accessible music. Songs of struggle and suffocation are polished competently with a veneer of quality production and memorable melodies, but it is how they play off each other that makes the record such a great one.
Meghan Remy has demonstrated again her exceptional abilities as a singer, writer and producer. Her high standards could make it easy to overlook “Heavy Light,” but I urge you not to. Although released in early March, it remains one of the best records from 2020.