‘In a Poem Unlimited’ is the sixth studio album from multi-disciplinary artist Meg Remy, released on 4AD under her decade-long U.S. Girls project. Let’s start at the beginning: I love the title. I absolutely, sincerely do love it. Its off-key rhythm, the way it doesn’t mean anything and then you think about it, and suddenly, Oh GOD! You get it. It’s saying something about the way that poetic form can contain the universe, maybe. Or it’s a metaphor for the absolute freedom that writing poetry offers, if only you can do it. It’s a four-word poem in its own right.
The album itself reveals similar conceptual layers. This is deep pop — sincere yet witty, offering reflections on violence and power set to a dizzying-mash up of vintage-inspired grooves. The tracks are mediations on conditions of violence, capturing the atmospheres that produce and follow violent acts. It’s a timely exploration of the roles women play in dynamics of power — both within romantic relationships and beyond, in religion, politics and our own minds.
There’s the dark, moody opener ‘Velvet for Sale’, with its expansive, cinematic sound setting the tone for what’s to come. And the distinctive disco on ‘Mad as Hell’ — an angry, upbeat protest song that you might have danced to at a family wedding in the 1970s. The short vocal interludes (‘Why do I lose my voice when I have something to say’ and ‘Traviata’) draw attention to the way gendered power fluctuations operate in the every day. The playful hip-hop inflected beats of ‘Incidental Boogie’ and ‘Pearly Gates’ are a highlight, while the smashed-glass and electric guitar confrontation of closing track ‘Time’ leaves the album deliciously unresolved – tense and silent, like the air after a fight.
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