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I’m not really into pop music, and Meg Myers is not all that new. However, she is new to me, and I have yet to hear her on the radio, so I think it counts. After Jessie graced our computer speakers and headphones by featuring Meg Myers’s video for “Desire” in a post a few months ago, my intrigue quickly sky-rocketed to mini-crush and then to buying Meg Myers’s first LP, 2015’s Sorry.
It should come as a surprise to no one that my favorite song off of this album is “Lemon Eyes”, a grungy, relentless song that is strangely reminiscent of Alanis Morisette’s talent for harmonizing her vocals with multiple overlays. The distorted guitar riff collides with the feathery, angelic quality of Myers’s voice, and her non-lyrical refrain adds an unexpected quality to her music.
While “Lemon Eyes” does not open Sorry, the video and lyrics do capture Myers’s tone of tumultuous and infectious relationships.
“And you’re free, free inside your own hell”
Most of Sorry does not feature the heavy guitar used in “Lemon Eyes”, but Myers’s music is entertaining and unconventional throughout. “Motel” opens the album with a soft ballad that quickly betrays her desire for more: “And I can’t fight this feeling any more / show me what I’m really living for.”
This is followed by “Sorry”, a resounding emotional dichotomy that becomes a theme of Myers’s songwriting. While her verse is like an airy lullaby, the chorus is lifted with an echoing harmony that takes the listener abruptly from the intimacy of her motel room to the grandiosity of a mountaintop. Myers uses this dichotomy to imbue her poignant lyrics with a venomous power: “My voice is twisted, guilty goes the tongue / Your eyes are faded, that used to turn me on / And our skin is dangerous, villains when we touch / No matter what we’re feeling, it never feels enough”.
“Desire” is brilliant mostly because it reminds me of the nightmarish allure of the traditional Dracula story — despite her lyrics straying into stalker territory, you can’t help but be pulled into Myers’s twisted world. Oh, and the unexpected guitar solo bleeds seduction.
“My heart is wasted, cut up like a drug”
“I Really Want You to Hate Me” gives us a 20/20 view of Myers’s non-ironic self-loathing. What’s interesting is the murky meaning of the ethereal chorus: “I’m feeling high / I want to die”. Is she describing her own release from this fate, or her resignation to it?
She may be giving us a clue in “Parade”, in which she laments — or admits — that her love for someone is not the full, unconditional love we might expect her to give. The emptiness of the first verse is deafening.
She follows this with the aforementioned “Lemon Eyes”, in which her near-sadistic jealousy is revealed: “You can’t even see how much you’re mine”.
“There were lions and bears tearing you from my side”
The emotional dichotomy returns in “Make A Shadow”, which begins as if lamenting the lost innocence of childhood, only to turn to fear of abandoning it altogether: “My heart is fire, my heart is young / I’m only only in the only only in the in the shadows”.
A less naive numbness plays in the lullaby, “The Morning After”. Myers lets us in a little closer to her pained soul, like how she sees the face of her lover in her daughter, but carries too much shame or regret or even apprehension to let them in. She can only bare her soul to the detached masses — or perhaps she chooses to.
Finally, in “Feather”, Myers unveils her desperation to break from this cycle, to fly on her “broken wings”. But she does not seem to be pleading to be carried. She only needs a strong wind to lift her towards the light.
“Wake me when the birds light up the sky”
Myers gives us easy song structures for her pop sound, but diverges from mainstream pop with her much darker themes. Her vocal range matches the emotional torrent across her music, rising from a soft falsetto to anguished cries almost instantly.
The overt hyper-sexuality of “Desire” and “Lemon Eyes” is juxtaposed with an overwhelming sense of emptiness in songs like “I Really Want You to Hate Me” and “The Morning After”. Far from dividing her music into two strains, this strange balance actually sharpens the emotionally honest blade that Myers cuts with, whether it is to herself or the listener.
This is refreshing, because Myers is not playing coy with her music, nor is she trying to put on an air of faux toughness. She presents a deliberate, emotionally raw picture of herself through her lyrics and the power of her music. In an era in which pop stars either have too much sheen or are too self-aware of their super-bad images, it’s nice to come across a songwriter who doesn’t ask us to see her as a badass — she just spits her demons into our faces and walks away.