When U.S. Girls released In a Poem Unlimited last year, its resolute message sent a shockwave through every listener it reached.

The seventh solo album from American-Canadian singer-songwriter Meg Remy, Unlimited… was a razor-sharp evisceration of the patriarchy and all its precarious failings. Her comment might be neatly packaged into joyous pop and disco grooves, but don’t let that fool you: Meg Remy is mad as hell. Here, we speak to her about the records that helped shape it all.

The first song to break my heart

The first time I heard Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers [Philles Records, 1965]. I was about four or five years old at this community picnic in a park and there was a DJ in a pavilion, and I was on a swing. I heard that song and it made me instinctively understand that someday I was going to have my heart broken. It made me feel something that I didn’t understand yet. It put a placeholder in my brain, like, ‘someday you’re gonna understand what this is about’. I remember being so moved that I cried and ran to my mother and asked her what this song was.

An album that helped shape my political identity

I have two. Pussy Whipped by Bikini Kill [Kill Rock Stars, 1993] and Stations of the Cross by Johnny Thunders [ROIR, 1987]. Those two together were the first records I heard that were very overtly political and clever – trying to mix entertainment with a message.

A track that has the most cutting lyrics of all time

Bill Withers has this song called You [Sussex, 1974] and he’s just really taking this woman to task. In the song he kind of reveals that she’s trying to get him to see a therapist, telling him he needs help. And he’s basically, like, ‘oh, you think I need help? I know this and this about you, and my friend saw you do this’. It’s a straight-up slam song. It’s really nasty.

The perfect pop song

Toxic by Britney Spears [Jive, 2004]. It’s perfect, it’s a little weird, it’s sexy, it’s instantly lovable.

My go-to comfort album

Definitely Street-Legal by Bob Dylan [Columbia, 1974]. It hits all my marks of what I look for in music. I listen to it so much and know it so well. You know that feeling when you want to zone out to a shitty show? It’s engaging you but it’s not engaging you too much, allowing you to be present, giving you that comfort.

A song that embodies love to me

Soul Driver by Bruce Springsteen [Columbia, 1992]. It embodies what I would like love to be, which is that [love] is gonna fight until the end, but if something is just not working, why waste time? It’s honest, it’s not trying to make love seem perfect. It reveals how messy and complicated and difficult love actually is.

In a Poem Unlimited is out now via 4AD


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