In interviews since Meg Remy's last album as U.S. Girls, 2015's Half Free, she indicated that her next batch of songs would be more direct, less polite. "The lyrics are getting, I think, way more violent," she told ChartAttack in 2016. "I'm dissecting violence a lot more because it's something I don't relate with, and yet it's everywhere."
That's immediately evident on In a Poem Unlimited; the record begins with "Velvet 4 Sale," a breathy percussion-propelled groove whose lyrics depict one woman imploring her friend to get a gun and confront the man who's abused her: "Don't offer no reason," she sings; "Instil in them the fear that comes from being prey."
It's one of many dark, complex moments here — "Mad As Hell" attempts to reconcile Obama's charismatic public image with his trigger-happy drone strikes; "Incidental Boogie" sympathizes with a woman who equates physical abuse with love; and in the aforementioned "Velvet 4 Sale," what could have been a simple revenge narrative gets conflicted and nuanced when the woman acknowledges that the violence "will surely go against your nature."
Remy balances the darkness with a rich, playful palette of synth textures, vibrant disco timbres and funk rhythms that variously evoke Isaac Hayes, Donna Summer, Curtis Mayfield and David Bowie's Young Americans/Station to Station era. Groovy and scintillating, but with depth and meaning to spare, In a Poem Unlimited is U.S. Girls — and pop music — at its very best. (Royal Mountain Records)