Artist: Speedy Ortiz
Album: Foil Deer
Release Date: April 21, 2015 (Carpark Records)
Buzz Factor: 4.8/5
Speedy Ortiz have come a long way.
Just four years ago, Sadie Dupuis sat in her room recording The Death of Speedy Ortiz while she taught songwriting at a summer camp. Then her solo project, Dupuis played every instrument herself and recorded the entire album on her laptop.
Things have changed. It’s no longer just Dupuis and her laptop. Now a four piece, Speedy Ortiz includes singer and guitarist Dupuis, drummer Mike Falcone, guitarist Devin McKnight and bassist Darl Ferm.
Today marks the release of Foil Deer, Speedy Ortiz’s second LP as a full band. Foil Deer serves as the follow-up to 2013’s critically acclaimed Major Arcana.
Major Arcana was a formidable full-band debut. Living up to the high expectations set by Arcana and 2014’s Real Hair EP was no easy task, but Foil Deer builds perfectly on the strong foundations set by Arcana and Hair, showing the band’s incredible growth and willingness to explore their sound.
The album opens with the mostly instrumental “Good Neck,” and some of the very first words that come out of Dupuis mouth are a slick threat: “watch your back, because baby’s so good with a blade.”
Speedy Ortiz may have come a long way, but they sure haven’t lost their bite.
In “Raising the Skate,” Dupuis doesn’t back down. “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss” she reminds us. Dupuis’ unabashedly feminist outlook and unfaltering confidence is on full display here, and she never lets up.
Throughout the record, Dupuis explores her abilities as a vocalist. From the very beginning, Dupuis has always been a fascinating singer. Her phrasing and intonation add to the band’s already dissonant qualities as she spits out phrases like “brain like a sphinx, but got nails like a prom queen.” On Foil Deer, Dupuis masters the art of pairing her sometimes off-kilter lyrics with catchy hooks.
“The Graduates” features one such example: “I was the best at being second place, but now I’m just the runner-up at being the second one you think of every day before you go back to one.” Written out, it looks almost like a tongue twister, but in the capable hands of Dupuis it’s going to be stuck in your head all day. All the while, she continues to impress with her always-fantastic guitar work.
Musically, Foil Deer is a more dynamic album than Major Arcana. The whole band explores new sounds, even delving into R&B influences with “Puffer.” It’s songs like this that make Foil Deer such a great listen – you’re never quite sure what the next track will hold.
Speedy Ortiz show incredible growth as a band, with new guitarist Devin McKnight fitting in perfectly and contributing to the band’s developing sound. Foil Deer is probably more accessible than Major Arcana, but it retains everything that makes the band so unique.
Foil Deer’s variety of sounds shows Speedy Ortiz’s incredible range, but what’s most promising is that they haven’t yet missed the mark. Foil Deer is bold but never missteps.
The future of Speedy Ortiz is bright, and, if this album is any indication, their best is still to come.