Release Date: Jul 9, 2013
Record label: Carpark Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
Impotent storytellers hunt for weird experiences to compensate for their inability to pick meat from the bones of the humdrum. Sadie Dupuis, singer and guitarist with Speedy Ortiz, is not one of those people – but she’s met them. “He wants to burn all my candles/No, that isn’t love/He wants a burn on his fingers/He thinks I’m the one to give it”, she sings of a manipulative dick who wants her to mark his “virgin parchment” on ‘Plough’, the penultimate track on the Massachusetts band’s ironclad, gnarled college rock debut, ‘Major Arcana’.
God bless middle school bullies: without the torment they’ve reliably inflicted on generation after generation of brooding, musically-inclined creative types, would there even be indie rock? At the very least there wouldn’t be “No Below”, one of the most striking songs on Northampton, Mass. , noise-pop quartet Speedy Ortiz’s proper debut Major Arcana. “I didn’t know you when I broke my knee,” frontwoman Sadie Dupuis murmurs during the song’s wounded, palm-muted intro, “Spent the summer on crutches, and everybody teased.
Major Arcana is angry. It’s about the losses of the past, to the point of even sounding like the past—its angular, moody ‘90s feel conjures the image of an overgrown punk hanging around a playground at night, drinking, smoking, wasting—but it’s also about repaying those who beat you. If you want to know a reason this record is special in spite of its obvious influences, here’s one: it could kick their asses.
Sadie Dupuis is becoming the new poster girl for the 90s indie rock revival. But her band, Speedy Ortiz - named after a minor character from the alt comic Love And Rockets - is far more than just another group of Pavement-worshipping 20-somethings. Rather than merely rehashing sounds of yesteryear, Speedy Ortiz add modern rock 'n' roll strokes to their take on fuzzy noise pop.
With Major Arcana, Speedy Ortiz announce the definitive release to date from a murky DIY scene that’s wrought promising Massachusets sludge-pop from Fat History Month, Krill and ovlov. Fronted by Sadie Dupuis, a ravenous reader who teaches poetry at University of Massachusets, the lineup comprises classical guitarist Matt Robidoux - also a teacher - trainee librarian Mike Falcone, and Darl Ferm, a film-studies graduate with a sideline in hot dog sales. While all this might suggest an exercise in academia - maybe not all that far off the mark - the connotations feel misleading: less hard, hoarse and mathematically limber than their Boston peers, Speedy Ortiz (pronounced Or-teez) seal their intelligence with restraint.
Speedy Ortiz’s Major Arcana is a swift album. Few of the songs clock in at longer than three-and-a-half minutes, and the whole work plays out over a grand total of 35. Luckily, every one of those minutes packs a wallop. Think of this as the espresso method: a strong, punchy musical concentrate ….
It is unlikely that you’ll hear many people discussing Speedy Ortiz without mentioning the 90s, but it doesn’t seem like the band mind very much. The press release for Major Arcana makes no effort to tactfully distance the group from their obvious influences (“Jawbox, Helium, and Chavez”). You sense that Speedy Ortiz rather wish they’d been around 20 years ago to occupy a niche amongst the multitudinal luminaries of indie-rock’s golden age, and on the basis of this debut record, they’d certainly have earned it.
Sounding like they were forged in the early to mid-'90s -- when Throwing Muses and Sleater-Kinney were all the rage -- Speedy Ortiz's 2013 debut album, Major Arcana, finds the four-piece influenced by the raw, slanted guitar-driven indie rock of the '90s. Turning back time to two decades prior is an ongoing trend of 2013, and in a lot of ways, Speedy Ortiz resemble Best Coast's grungier, more alternative cousin from up in the Northwest (actually, the members hail from Northampton, Massachusetts). With nimble, fractured musicianship steered by twisting guitar parts and Sadie Dupuis' sweet, gutsy voice, the group has drawn many comparisons to Pavement, who Dupuis admits plays a big influence on the band, not just in the song structures, but in the witty, conversational lyrical style of the album.
Speedy Ortiz make indie rock Nineties-style: crooked guitars, witty lyrics and songs assertive enough to draw listeners in but mysterious enough to elude them at the same time. Their debut is all sharp left turns: Punky exuberance gives way to ballads, big choruses unravel into melodies that curl away like smoke. Sadie Dupuis sounds as deadpan when she's kidding as when confessing her pain, one minute mourning being dumped, the next delivering lines like "And I'm gettin' my dick sucked/On the regular." The band's dynamic stales over the course of an LP, but Speedy still manage a feat most peers in the recycling business don't: Make an old style a new concern.
Speedy Ortiz are a quartet from Northampton, Massachusetts who make a distinctly early ’90s influenced punk rock clatter, but there’s more to them than that. The band have coalesced around singer and guitarist Sadie Dupuis, who began Speedy Ortiz as a distinctly lo-fi project named after an obscure comic book character. Dupuis’ caustic verbal dexterity and lyrical wordplay lifts full-length debut album Major Arcana beyond reverent derivativeness.
Speedy Ortiz front woman Sadie Dupuis seems hell bent on flaunting a subversive, glass half full attitude. “I’m getting my dick sucked on the regular,” she proclaims on “Fun”, one of several standout tracks from the band’s excellent debut, Major Arcana. It’s the kind of vulgar, self ….
When did we start thinking of guitar music as reactionary? By “guitar music,” I’m talking rock music, the kind where guitars smolder and squall, where nothing is polite, where melody and dissonance coexist in a passive-aggressive balance, like two roommates in a studio apartment. The last few years have seen a fresh crop of bands playing unfussy, straightforward guitar music—Yuck, Japandroids, Metz, Parquet Courts—and finding widespread critical acclaim. But the plaudits always come with a qualifier.
Speedy Ortiz’s debut Major Arcana is like buying yourself a rainbow candy necklace at the age you are now. Sporting one is a little quirky and a little idiosyncratic, but you totally can and you totally should cause they’re damn cool. When it was “in” for you to get your wrists and neck all muculent in sugary stick was most likely sometime during Speedy Ortiz’s inspirational ’90s.
Speedy Ortiz, the Western Massachusetts foursome fronted by Sadie Depuis, power blasts through its debut full-length with an unsettling combination of force and vulnerability. Major Arcana is simultaneously cleaner and denser than earlier EPs, its parts blistered with distortion yet easily audible as separate elements. An early 1990s fascination with wandering hooks, loud-soft shifts, disconsolate lyrics and dissonance swathed melodic hooks continues to make comparisons to Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr.