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U.S. Girls - Introducing...U.S. Girls

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Artist: U.S. Girls

Album: Introducing...U.S. Girls

Label: Siltbreeze

Review date: Nov. 7, 2008

There is something intensely isolating about U.S. Girls. Like a missive from some underground bunker, the songs come encoded. No liner notes beyond the simplest credits. No color press photos. No CD release. The songs themselves are at times impenetrable, repetitive and abrasive. Unappealing as this description might seem, Introducing...U.S. Girls doesn’t actually traffic in the glee-less distortion of the past eight years. Instead, Megan Remy, the U.S. Girl, performs music that is reverent to popular music – albeit the most raucous parts – without ever resorting to pantomime or sacrificing innovation for tribute.

Each song on Introducing… is both aloof and grounded, thanks to Remy’s hazy guitar loops. On the opening “The National Anthem,” she sings as if she’s a ghost with a grudge, floating through hallways but never raising hell or giving up. Her distinctive vocals add resonant emotion to the repetitive beats and dissonant chords.

The highlights on the album – “Don’t Understand That Man” and Remy’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Prove It All Night” – are lo-fi pop ballads. Remy strips away the elements that make the Boss’s song lush and pristine while adding impurities like a tinny beat and guttural backup vocals. The only remnant of the Springsteen version, besides the lyrics themselves, is the original’s sensuality, but Remy reinterprets even that, preferring to forsake Bruce’s urgency for her brand of quiet confidence. As a vocalist, she leans heavy on that confidence and defies sing-alongs, preferring to let her audience sift through the reverb to decipher the words beneath. She’s similar to Portland, Ore., compatriot Liz Harris in that respect, but where Harris’s Grouper project keeps it slow and low, songs like “Outta State” and “R.I.P. KJSN (AM910)” turn feverish and aggressive.

“Don’t Understand That Man” is a story about a no-good boyfriend, and in a way, the emotional core of Introducing…. A pop archetype like unrequited love can be daunting for any artist struggling to create something new, but Remy doesn’t take shelter in irony. She belts out her words with sincerity and passion. At the end of the song, she could devolve into a one-note rant, but she prefers to trail off, not giving the object of her affection the satisfaction of seeing her get too angry. Her wounds feel familiar, yet fresh. In that sense, U.S. Girls are hardly in need of an introduction.

By Jen Vafidis

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