Release Date: Apr 21, 2015
Record label: Carpark Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Speedy Ortiz have always been a little bit obsessed with comic strips. The band’s named after Eulalio ‘Speedy’ Ortiz from culty series Love and Rockets, and they also chose to announce their second album ‘Foil Deer’ with a slice of pen stroke Sci-Fi by their artist buddy Michael DeForge. Fast-forwarding a thousand years, to a new age where the world is saturated with micro-particles of shiny aluminium it predicts - with tongue firmly in cheek - that this record will transform the universe irrevocably.
“Watch your back, because baby’s so good with a blade,” forewarns Sadie Dupuis as she brings Foil Deer’s undulating curtain raiser to a close, fully inline with a recurring motif of Speedy Ortiz’s second LP to hold bitterness from an unhappier adolescence. But then again, she’s also really good with a pen and paper and a guitar, so the now 26-year-old now siphons any of that remaining bitterness into writing this playfully evasive, prolifically intelligent, relentlessly addictive rock music. It’s hard to stay objective when I’m writing a review of this record, because to put it simply, I love Speedy Ortiz.
“You never knew me, man, not even a fraction”, seethes Sadie Dupuis, atop a knot of corkscrewing guitars on ‘Raise The Skates’, the second track on Speedy Ortiz’ third album. It’s a sentiment never far from the Massachusetts songwriter’s lips throughout ‘Foil Deer’, spat more venomously each time. “The me you knew, that was some other me”, the 26-year-old sings on ‘My Dead Girl’, remembering a former self with a “brain like a sphinx but nails like a prom queen” who spent an unhappy adolescence striving to be what others wanted her to be (“picking my teeth, lurking in the shadows of the party lights”).
I’m gonna spout some #realtalk here – it’s damn difficult to faithfully write about one of your favorite bands, and it doesn’t help I’ve been in a rut as of late. Professional Writer Sadie Dupuis could probably relate; though, she’s also a primary catalyst for my lexical paralysis. I fucking love Speedy Ortiz; I fucking love Sadie Dupuis.
Major Arcana, the debut studio album from Northampton, Massachusetts band Speedy Ortiz, wasn’t exactly a surprise success. The album was hyped and delivered on said hype, resulting in a follow-up, Foil Deer, that has both anticipation and expectations hung on it. But despite the critical success, songwriter Sadie Dupuis’ other avenues of exposure as a writer (she’s also a college-level creative writing teacher), and the band’s work as virtual road warriors as both openers and headliners, winning at the internet music game hasn’t necessarily equated into a large fanbase.
About two thirds of the way through the film Bring It On, the cheerleading squad led by Kirsten Dunst hits rock bottom. They’re reigning national champions but this year’s competition is just weeks away and the find themselves without a routine. All set to give up, Kirsten Dunst gives a rousing pep talk that gets them studying different kinds of movement from swing, interpretive dance and musicals to mime.
Falling somewhere between Major Arcana's twists and turns and Real Hair's nods to Top 40 pop, Foil Deer is some of Speedy Ortiz's most polished, and unpredictable, music. The band spent nearly a month recording the album -- as opposed to the four days they had to make Major Arcana -- and the time they invested is apparent: Foil Deer opens up their dense sonic tangles without unraveling their style completely. "The Graduates" is a perfect example, with breezy keyboards that not only underscore the band's skill at distilling their tangents and angles into something downright catchy, but also distinguish them further from their '90s influences (and their like-minded contemporaries).
The year 1995 was a good one, maybe indie rock’s best. It was a year that yielded some of the genre’s most challenging work, exemplified by Pavement’s wily Wowee Zowee, which felt like the product of a band freed from earlier expectations that indie was going to be the next grunge. And while 1993 is often cited as the date of college-rock’s sexual revolution, 1995 ended up launching more revolutionary feminist-rock salvos, be it P.J.
Add Sadie Dupuis’ name to a long list of poetically inclined indie rock songwriters who deal in sometimes frustrated, often disaffected, always razor-sharp lyrics. Dupuis actually completed an MFA in poetry, though that hasn’t turned the stanzas she sings while fronting Speedy Ortiz into ivory tower academia. They retain their approachable angst and honest charm, which probably has something to do with the fact that Dupuis earned her degree at UMass Amherst.
On Speedy Ortiz’s 2013 debut Major Arcana, Sadie Dupuis crafted her barbed-wire wordplay into wounded callouts of those who had hurt her. Now, she's wielding it like a weapon. Foil Deer, the Massachusetts indie rock traditionalists' sophomore full-length, opens with Dupuis noting on "Good Neck" that she's good with a knife and she knows when to use it.
On Speedy Ortiz’s new album, Foil Deer, frontwoman Sadie Dupuis doesn’t set the world on fire — she’s the type to write characters who light a cigarette only to spit on it and snuff it out for good measure. The resoundingly articulate mouthpiece for the Northampton, Massachusetts band released Speedy Ortiz’s first scuzzy nuggets as a solo project in 2011, and throughout her full band’s subsequent releases (2013’s Major Arcana and last year’s Real Hair EP), she’s maintained that arresting slow-fi burn: “I was the best at being second place,” she deadpans on their latest, via the smoldering, near-Nirvana tribute “The Graduates. ” But even though Speedy’s proper sophomore effort draws from the same grungy Berkshires well that fed like-minded predecessors Dinosaur Jr.
Critics like to peg Speedy Ortiz as heirs to the Pavement throne. But while there is a fair bit of slack in the band's playing that, in the past, was in constant competition with singer Sadie Dupuis' melodies for the spotlight, and lines like "I was the best at being second place, but now I'm just the runner-up" make a case for "The Graduates" as loser anthem of the year, the comparison obscures singer Sadie Dupuis's musical M.O.Far from Malkmus' obtuse and at times nonsensical lyricism, Dupuis' words are rooted firmly in Guyville. The spectre of early Liz Phair is all over Foil Deer, which puts Dupuis's voice up front for the first time.
Major Arcana – Massachusetts quartet Speedy Ortiz’s 2013 debut album – was a blast: 10 jagged, messy, sweary bursts of noise pop. What it lacked in melodic élan it more than made up for in wit and vim. The band’s upward trajectory continued with last year’s Real Hair EP, which opened with American Horror – perhaps Speedy Ortiz’s best song to date and a promising indicator that they possessed the ability to write big, lapel-grabbing choruses as well as smart, funny lyrics.
Massachusetts indie rockers Speedy Ortiz take a plunge down the rabbit hole on their second LP. Frontwoman Sadie Dupuis is their bedraggled Alice in Wonderland, tumbling past the cartoonish faces of every ex-friend and bitter stranger, with plenty of Mad Hatter-worthy wordplay along the way ("We were the law-school rejects/So we quarreled at the bar instead"). Foil Deer is an upswing from the listless cynicism that clouded their 2013 breakout, Major Arcana: This time, Dupuis and fellow guitarist Devin McKnight take charge.
Once you learn that Sadie Dupuis, Speedy Ortiz’s mainwoman, used to be in a Pavement tribute band called Babement, everything falls into place. Major Arcana, SO’s debut, was an intriguingly off-kilter saunter through the college rock of the 90s that tickled many in 2013. This more fully realised follow-up packs the same charms, but sadly fails to transcend Dupuis’s record collection.
Speedy Ortiz came out of the gate in a big way with 2013's Major Arcana. It had a lot of blissful fuzz and clever, off-kilter guitar lines, and it drew inevitable comparisons to Pavement. So to keep that line of thought going, if Major Arcana is Speedy Ortiz's Slanted and Enchanted, their new album Foil Deer skips a few years ahead to Pavement's third full-length, Wowee Zowee.
Massachusetts outfit Speedy Ortiz's sophomore album is a biting, brooding affair: a Nineties feminist soundscape stippled with dissonance often verging on sinister, and wielding brainy guitar lines and lyrics. The tracks on Foil Deer thus hover between vulnerable and aggressive. "My Dead Girl" recounts a group of men converging on frontwoman Sadie Dupuis' pulled-over car in the dark summer she wrote the LP, while "Raising the Skate" asserts, "I'm not bossy, I'm the boss." Her honeyed delivery is gentle in the vein of Helium's Mary Timony, but her words are unapologetically courageous.
opinion by SAMUEL TOLZMANN Speedy Ortiz are masters of the non-sequitur, of subterfuge, of double-take. On Last.fm and in most critical reviews, they’ve been tagged “slacker rock” – perhaps because of frontwoman, guitarist, and poetry MFA Sadie Dupuis’s lyrical obsession with competitions, sports, winners, and losers; perhaps to link them to the kind of potheaded, shambling 1990s alt-rock they liberally lift from. While that pejorative misrepresents them – as it did a whole generation of smart, nervy, tightly-wound indie rockers they resemble, from Archers of Loaf to Pixies – it’s also understandable.
Speedy Ortiz’s first full-length, 2013’s Major Arcana, was one of the denser debuts in recent memory, one where whip-smart lyrics and gnarled guitar melodies collided in a tangled mass of ’90s indie-rock worship. Their sophomore effort, Foil Deer, is cut from the same cloth, driven by distortion eruptions, needling guitar riffs and frontwoman Sadie Dupuis’ cerebral wordplay. But this record is even more complicated.
Because of its unmistakable Pavement influence, Speedy Ortiz will always have slacker terminology attached to it. Yet it’s that descriptor that discredits just how deliberate the band’s songs have been since its inception. It’s those references to slacker rock that make Foil Deer’s first single, “Raising The Skate,” work to correct the dialogue surrounding it.
“Good Neck” — and by extension the entirety of “Foil Deer” — fades in with off-kilter thwacks, a spidery guitar line, a bass scraping forward, and disruptive electric squalling. The quartet’s members are nothing if not devoted disciples of ’90s alt-rock, but what keeps their LP from being simply a collection of references is the way the Northampton band insists on bleeding them into one another. They get off on intentional disruption, as when “Bends”-era Radiohead guitar scree and Mike Falcone’s drums lock into a fundamental judder on even a relatively straightforward basher like “Swell Content,” while Sadie Dupuis sings as though she learned how from “Exile in Guyville.