Continuing the storytelling and character building of 2018’s In A Poem Untitled but with a darker undertone, U.S. Girls’ eighth album Heavy Light is described as a ‘collaborative’ effort by the project’s front-person and lead vocalist Meghan Remy. Twenty musicians were involved in the album’s recording, and this sense of collaboration extends beyond instrument playing on interlude tracks 'Advice to Teenage Self' and 'The Most Hurtful Thing', layered collages of voicenotes from these musicians reflecting on their childhoods, traumas, and grievances.
The music video for lead single and album opener '4 American Dollars' reflects the absurdity of contemporary political life, featuring colourful floating mouths spitting out birthday cake and dollar bills over lyrics mentioning offshore bank accounts. Remy’s vocals become almost operatic, with building disco piano and percussive dance beats that veer into LCD Soundsystem territory. This contrasts with the darker tones on the album, such as in the menacing, almost spooky undercurrents in the building group vocals on 'Born To Lose’ that crescendo to chants of “you’ll tell us the truth”.
That the album remains danceably pop and in some places joyous, despite this palpable contempt and the named references to protest walks and data exploitation, is a testament to Remy’s clever combination and contrast of lyrics, melody, and beat. Although I don’t personally find Heavy Light as passionate or lyrically interesting as U.S. Girls’ earlier releases, and some of the middle tracks do blur into each other slightly, the album is still an impressive, soulful collection of disco-led songs and spoken word that show the project experimenting and evolving from the heights of In A Poem Untitled.