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"Necessary brattiness" is the motto for Speedy Ortiz’s dauntless new collection of songs, Twerp Verse, out on April 27th via Carpark Records. The follow-up to 2015's acclaimed Foil Deer, the band's latest indie rock missive is prompted by a tidal wave of voices, no longer silent on the hurt they’ve endured from society's margins. But like many of these truth-tellers, songwriter, guitarist and singer Sadie Dupuis scales the careful line between what she calls being "outrageous and practical" in order to be heard at all. "You need to employ a self-preservational sense of humor to speak truth in an increasingly baffling world," says Dupuis. "I call it a ‘twerp verse' when a musician guests on a track and says something totally outlandish – like a Lil Wayne verse – but it becomes the most crucial part. This record is our own twerp verse, for those instances when you desperately need to stand up and show your teeth.”
Speedy Ortiz has established itself as one of this decade's most vibrant bands since their 2012 debut EP Sports. That EP introduced listeners to the band's constant study of contrasts, with Sadie Dupuis' gnarled riffs acting as both counterpoint to and bolsterer of her acerbic, conversational poetry. 2013's Major Arcana went further, the members' reflexive chemistry inspiring them to push the limits of their sound, while 2015’s Foil Deer added headphone-ready detailing to the already clamorous mix. Their no-nonsense approach to progress, as evidenced by initiatives like their first of its kind in-concert "help hotline," and Dupuis' tackling of issues like bystander intervention and inclusivity in the music industry—in her lyrics, and as a frequent panelist and speaker—makes the band poised to surge into the future.
Twerp Verse, Speedy's third album and first with Philadelphian Andy Molholt (Laser Background) on second guitar, is urgent and taut, adding surprising textures like Linn drums and whirled guitar processing to their off-kilter hooks. Dupuis, whose electropop solo project Sad13 debuted in 2016 shortly after her own move to Philadelphia, has become more instinctive in her songwriting—her home-recorded demos mirror Twerp Verse's songs in a closer way than any other Speedy record—while her lyrics have become more pointedly witty. The band's camaraderie and crate-digging is evident, with diffuse reference points like Squeeze, Hop Along, Prince, Paramore, and Brenda Lee being sucked into the band's chaos. Even when Dupuis sings of alienation and political weariness, the pop maelstrom swirling around her provides a defiantly charged, mussed-but-hooky optimism.
Now as public pushback against the old guards reaches a fever pitch – in the White House, Hollywood and beyond – the band fires shots in disillusioned Gen Y theme "Lucky 88," and casts a side-eye towards suitors-turned-monsters in the cold-blooded single "Villain." Closing track "You Hate The Title" is a slinky traipse through the banality of this current moment in patriarchy – in which survivors are given the mic, but nitpicked over the timbre of their testimonies. "You hate the title, but you’re digging the song," Dupuis sings wryly, "You like it in theory, but it’s rubbing you wrong." Tuned smartly to the political opacity of the present, Twerp Verse rings clear as a bell.
Barry says: Perfectly encapsulating the driven, rawkous punk-edged drive of prime-era grunge with the playfulness and melodic leanings of some of the best skate-punk of the 90's, Speedy Ortiz add their own brand of off-kilter angularities to create a fun but perfectly emotive journey. Killer stuff.
1. Buck Me Off
2. Lean In When I Suffer
3. Lucky 88
4. Can I Kiss You?
7. I'm Blessed
8. Sport Death
9. Alone With The Girls
10. Moving In
11. You Hate The Title