|Speedy Ortiz — Twerp Verse (April 27, 2018)|
Speedy Ortiz — Twerp Verse (April 27, 2018) •★•√ Combining creative songwriting, quirky time signatures, and all the brash artiness of ‘90s indie rock, singer/guitarist Sadie Dupuis, bassist Darl Ferm, drummer Mike Falcone, and guitarist Matt Robidoux formed the group Speedy Ortiz in 2012. •★•√ Based in Northampton, Massachusetts, the members of the four~piece worked day jobs (as a college writing instructor, a guitar teacher, a librarian, and a burger~stand employee) while playing shows in and around N.Y.C.’s five boroughs and recording their debut EP, Sports. In June of 2012, Exploding in Sound released that EP, and in 2013 their first full~length, Major Arcana, was released by Carpark Records. They returned early in 2014 with the Real Hair EP, which was mixed and recorded by alt~rock producer extraordinaire Paul Q. Kolderie and featured songwriting inspired by pop and R&B. Guitarist Devin McKnight joined the band for 2015’s tighter second album Foil Deer, which Speedy Ortiz spent over a month recording in Brooklyn’s Rare Book Room studio. Following that album’s release, Dupuis set about recording the solo record Slugger in 2016. Two years later, the band reconvened for their third full~length effort. Before the release of Twerp Verse the band put out lead single “Lucky 88.” ~ Jason Lymangrover
Location: Northampton, Massachusetts
Genre: Indie Rock
Album release: April 27, 2018
Record Label: Carpark Records
01. Buck Me Off 3:00
02. Lean In When I Suffer 2:30
03. Lucky 88 3:11
04. Can I Kiss You? 2:26
05. Backslidin’ 3:00
06. Villain 3:20
07. I’m Blessed 4:26
08. Sport Death 3:30
09. Alone with Girls 3:24
10. Moving In 4:35
11. You Hate The Title 2:13
•★• Sadie Dupuis: guitar/vox
•★• Mike Falcone: drums
•★• Darl Ferm: bass
•★• Andy Molholt: guitar
COLE WATERMAN 06 Apr 2018; Score: 9
√ WERP VERSE IS SPEEDY ORTIZ AT THEIR MOST REFINED AND MOST ACCESSIBLE. THE ALBUM ABOUNDS WITH MELODIC HOOKS WHILE ADDRESSING SOME GRIM CULTURAL ISSUES.
√ In emulation of the album itself, let’s skip the preamble and get right to the heart of this — Twerp Verse, the third LP from Massachusetts quartet Speedy Ortiz, is damn fantastic. From the first moments of opener “Buck Me Off”, the album hits with an immediacy that doesn’t let up across its 11 tracks. Most remarkable, though, is that it marries two characteristics that typically make for odd bedfellows: its lyrics are socially conscious and steeped in the topical (while being poetically weird), but the tunes surrounding them are still a lot of fun. The band has always been uncompromising in its perspective, and with the current sociopolitical landscape, vocalist~guitarist Sadie Dupuis doubles down on addressing some grim cultural issues, all amid a bevy of melodic hooks. Twerp Verse features some of the band’s catchiest tunes thus far and finds Speedy Ortiz fully embracing earworm pop.
√ The record wastes no time in staking its claim with the defiantly self~assured “Buck Me Off”, which feels something like a spiritual sequel to “Raising the Skate”, one of the strongest tracks from 2015’s Foil Deer. Dupuis recalls “the year of the weird” as distortion simmers beneath her and the mid~tempo drum beat prods forth. Twenty seconds in, the grit drops out and allows an ethereal ambiance to float in. Just seconds later, the chorus barges in like a squall, Dupuis proclaiming “I’m in league with the devil / You better buck me off / I compete with the devil.” It’s a strong rebuttal against the patriarchal mindset that feels threatened by feminism, while still being impish in its mockery. The tune ends at the three~minute mark, establishing a trend most of its successors adhere to of wrapping while you’re eager to hear its hooks one more time. Clearly, Speedy Ortiz finds merit in the leave~them~wanting~more adage.
√ In “Lean in When I Suffer”, Dupuis casts a critical sneer at fair~weather allies who turn blind eyes to their friends’ mental health issues. Guitars skitter and cleave as the percussion lurches, halts, and lurches back, making a suitable audible simulation of the panic attack referenced in the lyrics. On its heels is “Lucky 88”, already a contender for an indie rock single of the year. Having augmented their guitar~focused aesthetic with quirky synths, it’s as unapologetic a pop number as Speedy Ortiz has released. Dupuis’s wry, Paul Westerbergian wordplay here is stellar: “I once was lost, but now I’m floundered / And running late for my funerary date.” The verses of jittery synths and click~clack percussion build tension, Dupuis sweetly offering a mantra of “I don’t care anymore” before the catharsis arrives in the refrain. Surging above the surface, it’s brash, snotty, and instantly infectious. As with “Buck Me Off”, its punchy length leaves a lasting taste in your mouth.
√ After this initial trio, the record reins in some of its boisterous tendencies for slower and more sinister~sounding numbers. “Can I Kiss U” weaves its way sinuously like a water moccasin slithering across a swamp, while “Backslidin’” has that ominous, dusk~is~settling~in mood. “I guess we’re backslidin’ into hell / But at least we know each other well,” Dupuis sings, her vocals soaring as subtle synths and descending guitars roil. “Villain” is the record’s most harrowing moment, the percussion tumbling as the bass throbs and odd synth bleeps arise. In near whisper, Dupuis describes riding the same bus as a creepy~yet~ntitled sexual predator. In this brief account, a spotlight is shone on a the fear and disgust of a woman who still must be polite to the titular villain’s come~ons. It’s an unsettling and compelling song, showcasing the divide between and expectations of both parties involved. That the setting itself is so mundane amplifies how rampant such conduct is. The eerie vibe is continued with “I’m Blessed”, which drifts along until the drums come in to anchor proceedings. Sparse synth notes give way to crushing guitars in the choruses, wherein Dupuis venomously asserts autonomy, before those too fade into the lightly hovering outro.
√ The following three songs — “Sport Death”, “Alone With Girls”, and “Moving In” — reassert the album’s poppier inclinations. The first opens with pulsating bass before evolving into a guitar whirlwind, Dupuis spitting rapid~fire lyrics. “Alone With Girls”, a confident kiss~off of a number, begins with minimal instrumentation before swelling to another memorable chorus that’ll compete with the others already stuck in your head. “Moving In” is, for lack of a better term, lyrically the sweetest cut, seemingly a genuine love song. The drawback is that it is the least memorable of the batch, but it gives way to one hell of a closer in “You Hate the Title”. Even by the standards established in the preceding ten songs, this is a bit jarring at first. It’s pure, unabashed bubblegum, the kaleidoscoping synths at their most prominent, sounding a bit like an off~kilter carnival calliope. Lyrically, it takes on a meta~degree of commentary, jabbing those who are too cool to admit they like pop music but will still sing along. With its self~referential quality, it’s the perfect way to wrap the record.
√ This is Speedy Ortiz at their most refined and most accessible. Their previous two records were great but faced some criticism of being a little too indebted to a ‘90s fixation. Yes, some of their lo~fi grit has been culled, but to complain about that in light of the rewards the change yields is to be contrarian. With Twerp Verse, Speedy Ortiz no longer sound like they’re working through their influences; they simply sound like Speedy Ortiz. √ https://www.popmatters.com/
√ “Necessary brattiness” is the motto in Speedy Ortiz’s dauntless new collection of songs, “Twerp Verse.” The follow~up to 2015’s “Foil Deer,” the band’s latest indie rock missive is prompted by a tidal wave of voices, no longer silent on the hurt they’ve endured from society’s margins. But like many of these truth~tellers, songwriter, guitarist and singer Sadie Dupuis scales the careful line between what she calls being “outrageous and practical” in order to be heard at all.
√ “You need to employ a self~preservational sense of humor to speak truth in an increasingly baffling world,” says Dupuis. “I call it a ‘twerp verse’ when a musician guests on a track and says something totally outlandish — like a Lil Wayne verse — but it becomes the most crucial part. This record is our own twerp verse, for those instances when you desperately need to stand up and show your teeth.”
√ “Twerp Verse” was tracked in Brooklyn DIY space Silent Barn, mixed by Omaha legend Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley) and mastered by Grammy~nominated engineer Emily Lazar (Sia, Haim, Beck). The record pulls from the most elastic pop moments in Squeeze’s Argybargy and the seesawing synth~rock of Deerhoof and the Rentals. With Dupuis on guitars, vocals, and synths, supporting guitarist Andy Molholt (of psych pop outfit Laser Background) now joins Speedy veterans Darl Ferm on bass and Mike Falcone on drums — and together they accelerate the band’s idiosyncrasy through the wilderness of Dupuis’ heady reflections on sex, lies and audiotape.
√ Dupuis, who both earned an MFA in poetry and taught at UMass Amherst, propels the band’s brain~teasing melodies with her serpentine wit. Inspired by the cutting observations of Eve Babitz, Aline Crumb’s biting memoirs, and the acute humor of AstroPoet Dorothea Lasky, Dupuis craftily navigates the danger zone that is building intimacy and political allyship in 2018. Now as public pushback against the old guards reaches a fever pitch — in the White House, Hollywood and beyond — the band fires shots in disillusioned Gen Y theme “Lucky 88,” and casts a side~eye towards suitors~turned~monsters in the cold~blooded single “Villain.” Closing track “You Hate The Title” is a slinky traipse through the banality of this current moment in patriarchy — in which survivors are given the mic, but nitpicked over the timbre of their testimonies. “You hate the title, but you’re digging the song,” Dupuis sings wryly, “You like it in theory, but it’s rubbing you wrong.” Tuned smartly to the political opacity of the present, “Twerp Verse” rings clear as a bell.
|Speedy Ortiz — Twerp Verse (April 27, 2018)|