We were left begging for more, more, more after 2014’s Real Hair EP from one of Massachusetts’ DIY heroes—Speedy Ortiz. The gritty, unrelenting rawness pairs beautifully with Sadie Dupuis’s lackadaisical crooning, and they’ve continued to impress since their first full-length release, Major Arcana. With all the anticipation that preceded its release, it’s clear that Speedy shows no signs of slowing down with Foil Deer.
“I was the best at being second place,” Dupuis repeats on “The Graduates,” a nearly four-minute long track reminiscing about all things high school, like the ever-present problem of being in love with your best friend. Unsuccessfully vying for his attention, Dupuis auspiciously captures listeners with a sort of Plathian petulance. But where Sylvia served to depress, Speedy works to captivate.
The album is transformative, shedding the skin of the previous track with each successive one. “Puffer” breaks away from the band’s fuzzy lo-fi tendencies into an explosion of quasi trip-hop—equal parts aggressive and restrained, with pulsing rhythms and a sense that Dupuis isn’t letting us in on the real meaning of her lyrics. Falling in line with aggressive female-fronted groups a la Garbage, it’s that beautiful in-between of sound that characterized 90s rock: not melodic enough to be rock, not synthetic enough to be electronic, and not playful enough to be hip hop.
Foil Deer proceeds with a firm step in the right direction, holding its head high as if to say, “Look how far we’ve come.” And Speedy Ortiz certainly has grown immensely as a band, evidenced by what can best be described as the melodic sigh that is “Mister Difficult,” on which Dupuis relays matter-of-factly, “But you’d never get hit without earning it / And I only hit you first ‘cuz I deserved my own hit too / Still it comes the time to call you out / Since I’m the one that you should be about.” Speedy Ortiz has taken their original sound and totally revamped it. They’ve grabbed Foil Deer by the antlers, and it’s a majestic creature.
- Evident growth in sound
- Fierce grrrl power
- Clever lyrics
- Weird transitions
- Trip hop comes out of nowhere