U.S. Girls – Half Free // Album Review

963214AD – out now

There is a pervasive school of thought that pop music, in order to target the most common denominator, must not stray into conceptual lyricism. They’d have us believing that if it’s not a four minute cry wank about emotionally blackmailing a partner to stay, not caring what the haterz say, or communicating solely in platitudes, that we’d all switch off and never buy a record again. The latest offering from Meghan Remy, her first album on 4AD, pisses on this notion from a great height without ever getting her hands dirty. It’s a pristine pop album that delves imperviously into “experiences of the everywoman” with a melodic adroitness that launches it into a different class from her early, rough­-around­-the­-edges recordings. More Talking Heads than Taylor Swift, the pulsating disco textures of ‘Woman’s Work’ and ‘Window Shades’ dazzle, whilst the reverb washes of ‘Navy & Cream’ beat down like glorious lashes of thunder. Lead single ‘Damn The Valley’, a song about the loss experienced by partners of servicemen and women, hooked around a reggae beat, on paper shouldn’t work, but it’s both a chilling indictment of the futility of war and one of the best pop songs we’ll hear all year. Just as label mates Grimes and St. Vincent broke through on later­-career releases that struck a subversive pop note, Half Free does similar work and deserves to be considered on a equal footing to those stellar records.

Buy: U.S. Girls – Half Free

Live: Corsica Studios – October 28th