Monday, July 16th, 2018

Meg Myers – Numb

Get out your 1990s bingo sheets…


Alex Clifton: I think a lot these days about women’s anger. How I know I felt angry for years whenever certain things happened — whenever an old man wouldn’t stop touching me at a bus stop, for instance, or when I was harassed at quiz bowl tournaments by nerd boys who had evidently never seen a woman in their life — but also knew that I had to tamp it down. That I had to temper my discomfort with “well, maybe it’s just me” because if I said anything accusatory, I’d be met with blank stares and “are you sure?” In the past two years or so, women have finally broken open with their anger and it’s cathartic as all hell. Overwhelming at times, yes, but it feels so good to know I’m not alone. I find “Numb” striking because it’s not necessarily a perfect song, but because Myers’s vocal performance encapsulates that anger so well. Her voice isn’t always smooth; it wobbles on some of the higher notes, skitters over some of the longer phrases, feels awkward at times. But when that chorus hits, I want to yell with her. It’s the feeling of pent-up frustration that’s morphed over the years, finally spilling out. 

Alfred Soto: Resist nostalgia, sure. Meg Myers’s “Numb” transports me to a time when Placebo and Sleeper married an affected vocal diffidence and chordal aggression. Only Paramore and Dead Sara have issued homages that don’t sound like mere pastiches. There’s nothing “mere” about “Numb,” but pastiche it remains.

Katherine St Asaph: Countless PR’d up indie singers are touted as the reincarnation of ’90s female-fronted alt-rock, but Meg Myers, despite comparatively little press, comes closest to what it actually sounded like. “Numb” evokes decades of the sound — Nirvana and the Pixies, Linkin Park and Green Day — but in spirit it’s entirely Liz Phair and Lisa Germano circa Happiness. God, what I’d give to live in a time when every third major-label signing sounded exactly like this. Extra point for the studio-submerged vocals on “bury my head in the sand” and staccato delivery of “numb.”

Jonathan Bradley: Meg Myers has her Kim Deal basslines figured out; she’s not bad with the Joey Santiago guitar squall either. “Numb” follows the tracks worn by 1990s alt-rock with intent, and the flare of attention given last year to Brand New’s Science Fiction — before news of Jesse Lacey’s predations promptly extinguished it — might be advised to redirect itself towards this songwriter and her rediscovery of college rock’s affinity for very pop pleasures. The chorus hangs on the single word title, and Myers swallows it, turning it into an afterthought, a coda to power chords rather than the emotional center of her song. After the deliciously doomy decorations on the verses, it’s a little bit disappointing, but still: if you came “Numb” in a triple-play between Smashing Pumpkins and Goo Goo Dolls, you’re not by any means going to touch the dial.

Vikram Joseph: “Numb” is a fun game of spot-the-’90s-influence, I guess — while the intro could hardly be more “Where Is My Mind?”, there’s plenty of other bands that come to mind during the (admittedly rather enjoyable) grunge-pop eruption of the chorus: The Cranberries, No Doubt, Placebo, Nirvana, and, in its generic but keenly-felt angst, even Linkin Park. Where it really comes unstuck, though, is with Meg Myers’s occasionally awkward vocals and decidedly ropey lyrics; she describes herself as a “broken robot” and a “silly little monster,” as well as coming up with “I’m in your custody, but I’m not a criminal” (which sounds like a very early Brandon Flowers draft).

Hannah Jocelyn: How do you make the angsty, wordless hook of “Where is My Mind?” even angstier? Reform it in a minor key, and add the kind of heavy, overly polished drum sound that would make “Where Is My Mind?” producer Steve Albini cringe. Then add lyrics that mash up aphorisms until they turn into something profound: “You think you want the best for me but nothing really matters/If you force it won’t come, I guess I’m feeling numb.” Elsewhere, “Numb” gets too bogged down in more ’80s-’90s rock tropes, especially with the chorus’s chord progression, but the clipped shouts of the title sound distinctly modern. It’s the kind of smart performance that’s set Myers apart as far back as her earlier, electronic-influenced music. “Numb” doesn’t quite reach the height of those early songs, but as radio rock becomes increasingly electronic and Imagine Dragons-ized, it’s impressive how Myers and producer “Leggy” Landon decided to go backwards in an organic, ultimately rewarding direction.

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2 Responses to “Meg Myers – Numb”

  1. “Only Paramore and Dead Sara have issued homages that don’t sound like mere pastiches.”

    This may be the actual dumbest sentence I’ve ever read on TSJ.

  2. wait wait someone mentioned Sleeper on TSJ and it wasn’t as a punchline, and not by a limey or by me how did this happen help