Meg Myers is some of my favorite mood music for suspense and angst- ever since she blared into my world scream-singing “You’re in my heart, in my heart, in my head,” (Heart, heart, head) and “Sorry that I lost our love, without a reason why,” (Sorry) and “I’ve gotta hunt you, I want to bring you to my hell”(Desire). She has a particular talent for walking the line between anguished, sultry, self-punishing, and desperate. In other words, the perfect music for the third-act black moment, or for a twisted game of cat-and-mouse.
For those seeking more of her plaintive screams, you may be disappointed. Perhaps some of it is that it’s difficult to maintain a career built on that sort of vocal technique long term, and perhaps some of it is simply that her choice of producers and songs didn’t mesh as well with the old style, but Take Me to the Disco is in many ways quieter- instrumentations are often minimalistic, augmented mainly by piano, strings, and “atmosphere” aside from the beat, more alt-pop ballads suitable for dancing.
That said, many of the tracks on the album retain her signature lyrical edge- not just in the complex, bleak, sometimes macabre lyrical matter, but also in the presentation. Jealous Sea has a gorgeously driving beat, combined with an ostinato arrangement and chorus that reminds me greatly of Make a Shadow’s discordant yet sexy mood music. Done is forceful and potent, asking “I’m caught in the physical, how long can I keep on hanging on?… Baby, I’m done, Fade away like a memory”. And Sorry is simply beautiful, an impressionistic, abstract ode to the time at the end of a relationship when you know it’s failing, but still want to make it work nonetheless. Parts of it are almost sexual, like make-up lovemaking, or begging, amplified by morose strings, and the repetitive lyrics. It’s easily one of my favorite tracks. And Tourniquet and Tear Me to Pieces both have an energy that fits their vitriolic subject matter- codependency, unhealthy relationships, falling for unhealthy people and feeling unable to pull away, even when you know it’s what’s best. They’re so, so close… but a hair off, I think, from the “edge” that caught people’s eye in her earliest work.
The dance-pop edge doesn’t resonate for me as deeply- in particular, “Death of Me” is a miss. I like the overall songwriting, but the arrangement and additional vocals feel too cheery and buoyant to work for the subject matter. The album does feel “softer” than her previous work- though “soft” for Meg Myers is still a velvet crowbar- it’ll still fuck you up, and is nothing to be underestimated. It reminded me more of 80s/90s Gothic/Industrial dance music, fused with 00s/10s Altpop. Little Black Death in particular works well, as do many of the more upbeat tracks. But it’s easy to see why her music has such a strange niche- not quite pop-y enough to work for a major record label (see Numb), but still toned down just a hair on this album for some of the alternative scenes. It will be interesting to see where she goes from here, especially as the creative blockages that came from her separation with her old label go further in the rearview.
Take Me to the Disco probably won’t rank higher than Make a Shadow as far as rock classics go- not by a long shot- but it’s still well worth a listen. And if you’re someone who prefers their music danceable, accessible, and with fewer rough edges, Myers’ new direction might be right in your arena. I’m happy for all the Meg Myers music I can get- and several of the tracks are definitely making it onto my writing playlists. It won’t go down as my favorite album of hers, or as an instant classic, but it did not let me down, since I was far, far more concerned after hearing the first few releases- Numb, Take Me to the Disco, etc.- which were probably the more generically arranged, weakest-sounding tracks on the album. I’m glad that tracks such as Jealous Sea, I’m Not Sorry, Done, and Tear Me to Pieces kept the old weirdness alive in her new production style.
Take Me to the Disco is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and various other places where music is sold.