There’s plenty to unpack in the wry, confessional lyrics of the Speedy Ortiz — the solo-moniker-turned rock band of singer and guitarist Sadie Dupuis. With lines like “Spent the summer on crutches and everybody teased / except for this one friend I almost forgot” (“No Below”), Dupuis lets us in, revealing her distinctively sharp point of view — equal parts hilariously self-deprecating and brutally honest.
On this year’s superb record, Major Arcana, Speedy Ortiz churns through a set of seething and clever songs detailing complicated and broken relationships, and wounded angst in a way that will surely (hopefully) empower countless brooding teens to pick up a pen — and/or a guitar — and let it all out.
Considering the subject matter and literary depth to her lyrics, it might not come as a surprise that Dupuis studied poetry at M.I.T. and Barnard, and is finishing up an MFA at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Even the band’s name is a nod to a particularly doomed character in the beloved alt-comic Love And Rockets.
Still, Speedy Ortiz’s music is far from vulnerable; the band’s members — Dupuis, along with drummer Mike Falcone, guitarist Matt Robidoux, bassist Darl Ferm — are all part of a tight-knit scene in Northhampton, Mass., known for heavy and noisy music. That comes into play especially where Speedy Ortiz leans into its ‘90s influences — think Pavement, Polvo, or Dinosaur Jr. On songs like “Tiger Tank” or “Cash Cab,” the band unleashes crooked and gnarled arrangements full of searing guitar lines and explosive energy.
It’s that mix of whip-smart wordplay and noisy contorted riffs that, for me, makes Speedy Ortiz one of the most exciting young bands of this year.