The Beard – EP 121 – Speedy Ortiz by Beard Radio on Mixcloud

Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer

Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer

Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer

When checking out Speedy Ortiz’s site, Google asks if you want it translated from Spanish. Racist or ironic? Neither. Judging a book by its cover (or in this case a band by their name) is dangerous, because frontwoman Sadie Dupuis seems to have a knife. Regardless Speedy Ortiz is getting closer. Closer to what? The elusive goal of more than just sounding like a band foraging on the edge of multiple genres of music–almost being too heavy, almost being out of tune, almost being too flippant toward creating worlds of sound bigger than all of us, themselves included, to listen in awe to.

The site also says that they are a band who “plays music and eats stuff.” The sense of straightforward anti-posturing comes through cleanly on “Raising the Skate,” where Dupuis sings, “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.” Straightforward does not mean simple and Dupuis’ lyrics feel like a mixture of writing meant to mean something mixed with words meant to evoke feeling through their sound. She has a writer’s knack for turns of phrase that pair words together which sound good and have a larger meaning, often on multiple levels. Literary allusions to the complexities of Thomas Pynchon and Roberto Bolaño novels are not out of place when talking about 2013’s notable Major Arcana, the release that got them on the musical map which fans and critics alike seem to like for more than just the guitar riffs.

The group, made up of Dupuis–the band’s songwriter, guitarist, and frontwoman–Mike Falcone on drums, Darl Ferm on bass, and new addition Devin McKnight of Grass is Green on guitar, has spent the last year on tour in support of The Breeders, Ex Hex, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, and Thurston Moore. Touring can be gruesome and tiring and Dupuis imposed exile and physical cleansing of sorts, in order to write songs for Foil Deer. “I gave up wasting mental energy on people who didn’t have my back,” she says. “Listening to our old records, I get the sense I was putting myself in horrible situations just to write sad songs. This music isn’t coming from a dark place, and without slipping into self-empowerment jargon, it feels stronger.”

Stronger indeed. They seem to revel in straddling the lines and the music shows that, bending and blending musical styles and genres multiple times each song, going from a growl to a purr on “The Graduates” and back to the melodic rollercoaster of “Dot X”. They pull off the awkward tremolo of roving from quaver to thrash, mostly. Where they fail seem to be interesting experiments building up and tearing apart songs, guiding blocks for the next album, to be worked out on the road. But the overarching beauty of guitar plus voice in harmonious chorus on songs like “My Dead Girl”, “Ginger” and “Mister Difficult” create a melodic string connecting the cresting “Good Neck” beginning to the album’s end on the pretending-to-be-lighthearted “Dvrk Wrld”.

Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer Recorded and mixed at Brooklyn’s Rare Book Room with Nicolas Vernhes (Silver Jews, Enon, Deerhunter), mastered by Emily Lazar (Sia, Haim, Beauty Pill), Speedy Ortiz spent a month in the studio on Foil Deer. Falcone’s drums and Ferm’s bass range chaotic to classic inline groove and all points between in support of the gallivanting guitar riffs. The addition of McKnight even-keel playing lend lucidity Dupuis’ light, melodic guitaring. Whereas Major Arcana came across as an early Silver Jews home bootleg recording, Foil Deer feels more polished in terms of depth of sound and production value.

“The demos for our songs have always had tons of small details and production experimentation, but we never had any money to pay for more than a couple days in the studio, so the songs came out very live-sounding and guitar heavy,” Dupuis says.

Speedy Ortiz seem to have the best of both big rock festival attitude and punk’s gritty spirit in a way that makes playing the summer festivals like Primavera Sound and Pitchfork Music Festival akin to thrashing around Boston’s small clubs. No chance to see them live? Why not treat yourself to the special limited LP on gold vinyl – it comes with sticker. All vinyl comes with band-designed chapbook and digital download card in gatefold jacket.