Label: Carpark Records
Released: 27th April 2018
When Speedy Ortiz announced their follow-up to 2015’s ‘Foil Deer’ by emphatically stating that their original attempt at a third record was scrapped and rewritten as its sentiments no longer rang true in the current political environment, there was the sense that it could be a real game changer. It was never going to be an overtly angry protest record, given former teacher and poetry Masters Student Sadie Dupuis’ penchant for riddle like, oblique lyrics, but it certainly marks a bolder, more self-assured Speedy Ortiz.
While ‘Foil Deer’ tracks such as ‘Raising the Skate’ seemed to contain more of a defiant statement of intent with lyrics like “I’m not bossy I’m the boss, shooter not the shot”, it seems Speedy have found a more comfortable, confident space to inhabit with ‘Twerp Verse’, allowing them to be both more playful and refined.
‘Twerp Verse”s first single ‘Lucky 88′ hinted that Speedy Ortiz had truly grabbed their pop sensibilities by the reins. A glorious, snotty anthem, it ditches the wiry riffs in favour of skittering percussion and fizzing synths, clearly indebted to Sadie Dupuis’ superb foray into poppier, electronic territory with 2016’s solo project Sad13. ‘Lucky 88’s’ glossy sheen allows Dupuis’ signature sardonic wit to fully come to the fore, as she delivers lines like “Can’t you act responsibly? You’re the sick pup that created me” with honeyed barb.
Opener ‘Buck Me Off’ is a highlight, all twisted humour and a tangle of clattering, angular riffs that rise and fall around Dupuis’ paradoxically acerbic coos. ‘Backslidin” has a chorus reminiscent of debut ‘Major Arcana’s’ ‘No Below’, skilfully making discordant guitars seem beautifully affecting. Synths creep into several of the tracks here: on ‘I’m Blessed’ they add a slinky texture alongside grimy guitars.
Social politics and scrapped material aside (although you kind of can’t help but wonder what hit the cutting room floor), what makes ‘Twerp Verse’ a game changer, is that it feels like the true Speedy Ortiz we were always meant to hear. Dupuis’ achingly cool delivery and witty lyrics are stronger and sassier than ever, and while it doesn’t stray far from the off-kilter slacker rock territory Speedy fans have come to know and love, the unapologetically poppy aspects of ‘Twerp Verse’ have given the band an invigorating dimension that will no doubt propel them even further forward as a force to be reckoned with.