wears the trousers magazine

u.s. girls: go grey (2010)
February 8, 2010, 11:02 am
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , ,

U.S. Girls
Go Grey ••••

On first listen, the patriotic, sorority evoking moniker of Philadelphia-based DIY ingénue Megan Remy seems rather discrepant. Go Grey is nine songs long, full of hissing feedback, lashings of reverb and stripped back, high impact, psychedelic noise. But this second album, from an artist who allegedly carries all the equipment she needs in one suitcase, actually harbours many a thread of Stateside originated genres. With hallucinogenic sounds evoking the futuristic space-age pop that rose out of the ’60s and ’70s, fused with the kind of ’50s-inspired lo-fi experimental punk styles that are currently raging, Go Grey glitters with veins of discernable influences but manages to sound avant-garde and decidedly original all the same.

The cascading, gravel-spun distortion of Wavves and the nostalgic crispness of Dum Dum Girls are worth pointing to, but vocally Remy extends past any lo-fi punk sing-song. Standout track ‘Red Ford Radio’ gets stripped back and low, evoking the primal doom-blues of PJ Harvey on ‘I Think I’m A Mother’ and R&B-ish, almost Karen O-level sass reigns supreme on the garage-grown-wild pummelling of ‘I Don’t Have A Mind Of My Own’. The underwater harmonies of the Vivian Girls are conjured in places too, but Remy keeps her multiplied, choral vocals so overlaid with FX that they tantalise behind an ethereal veil – abrasive and sweet but cosmically distant, especially on the achingly lovely, subtle doo-wop of ‘Blue Eyes On The Boulevard’.

Remy’s experimental approach to beat patterns creates a shifting fabric of rhythms that runs throughout the album. ‘Red Ford Radio’ keeps a steady, thudding pace, while others shirk off any rigid time signatures, sometimes forgoing drums at all and favouring a wild freeform; the instrumental ‘Sleeping On Glass’, for example, takes its own echoing beat pattern from emerging waves of crashing guitar reverb. Other songs pick up speed only to slow down again, such as opener ‘Turnaround Time’, but the unorthodox structuring feels intuitive and right, as do the instrumental numbers, which express just as eloquently as the vocal-led ones.

Go Grey‘s approach to sound is successfully faceted, seeming wry and a touch menacing at times and full of wide-eyed, curious innocence and shimmering romance at others. The beginning shrills of ‘Summer Of The Yellow Dress’ seem chilling and portentous, but are swept seconds later into a swelling hook of hypnotic notes that seem to fire across the song like comets. The chiming clock has grown gigantic, expelling metallic explosions of sound in ‘Sleeping On Glass’ and ‘His Son’s Future’ ends by fusing devouring vacuum roars with sweet, paternal wind chimes – a startlingly effective combination. Go Grey takes a little time to connect with, but repeated plays and a willingness to engage will open the way like a charm.

Charlotte Richardson Andrews
UK release date: 01/02/10; www.myspace.com/usgirlsss


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