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New Music: Speedy Ortiz

By Jason Herring, May 28 2015 —

I hate the term ‘indie rock.’ When I hear it, I imagine music that’s nondescript and impotent. So when I started hearing good things about Massachusetts four-piece Speedy Ortiz’s latest album Foil Deer, I was wary of the band’s indie rock classification. But the group manages to craft biting songs in an original style.

Foil Deer is defined by frontwoman Sadie Dupuis’ charged vocals. Her impassioned performance is reminiscent of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and her presence gives the album an edge. ENT_SpeedyOrtiz

The record’s best song, “The Graduates,” explores the idea of never being the first choice, whether in academia or romance. “I was the best at being second place, but now I’m just the runner-up,” Dupuis laments in the track’s angst-filled chorus.

One of the album’s other great tracks is “Zig,” which is bookended by Dupuis asking “how many laps does it take to decide you’re back at the start” over soft acoustic guitars. By contrast, the middle of the song is characterized by tortured instrumentals and anxious lyrics. Speedy Ortiz pull off the cyclical structure seamlessly.

The album’s instrumentals also impress. Songs like “Homonovus” have surprisingly vicious backing tracks and the band has no shortage of catchy riffs, like on lead single “Raising the Skate.”

Foil Deer isn’t all hits, though. The middle of the album is mostly filler tracks — songs that aren’t bad, but have no lasting identity. While most albums have some filler, it’s less excusable on a record that struggles to reach the 40-minute mark.

But those are minor quarrels. Foil Deer is a solid album that’s powered by Dupuis’ strong vocal performance, proving that Speedy Ortiz can be more than a generic indie rock group. I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.

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