Jakob's Album Reviews

Words About Music

Speedy Ortiz – “Major Arcana” – ALBUM REVIEW

Speedy Ortiz “Major Arcana”


The term “indie rock” is one of the most polarizing and ambiguous genre titles of all time. What does “indie” sound like? When is “indie” not “indie”? Is it a sound or ethos? Does it describe that said band is on an independent label, or can a major label band be indie? Well the truth about indie rock is that sometimes you just know. Pavement is indie rock. The Strokes’ “Is This It” is indie rock. Sonic Youth is indie rock. Cloud Nothings is indie rock.

Speedy Ortiz is indie rock.

Speedy Ortiz is a band from Massachusetts, and they blend the noisy no-wave of Sonic Youth, the grrrl power of Hole and Sleater-Kinney, and the care-free indie semi-lo-fi prowess of Pavement. The result is one of the most exciting indie rock album since Cloud Nothings’ “Attack on Memory.”

You’re probably thinking “But Jakob, there are SO MANY so-called indie rock bands out there, and so many of them are so boring. What makes these guys so special?” Good question, I think. Allow me to explain.

Speedy Ortiz sound like they’ve been doing what they’ve been doing for 10 years, but in fact it seems like this kind of music comes naturally to them. But what really makes this band so exciting and so fun to listen to is frontwoman/guitarist Sadie Dupuis, whose vocal skills are modest (think Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast meets Courtney Love from Hole) and whose lyrics paint the picture of a somewhat damaged soul who still holds a grudge or two from high school but knows how to let go and have fun. Really, “Major Arcana” is the perfect album for its time. With tons of 90s callback bands finding their way into the blogging mechanism, there are very few that are really worth it. Speedy Ortiz have successfully crafted the perfect summer album for 2013, in a year where very few bands are crafting perfect summer albums. In fact if it weren’t for Queens of the Stone Age, Chance the Rapper, and Vampire Weekend we may have no great summer albums save “Major Arcana.”

The songs are short and sweet (except for the 7 minute grand finale) but they all wear their influences on their sleeves, in the best possible way. There’s catchy melodies, sick-sweet guitar tones, fantastic riffs, simple bass lines, and noisy climaxes that tie this album together perfectly. It may not be conceptually original, but if this band gains enough buzz and traction like I hope they do, then this could definitely introduce a younger generation to any number of bands that inspired this one. I really hope for the day that Speedy Ortiz opens the door to Pixies, The Replacements, Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Sonic Youth, Hole, Pavement, Silver Jews, et. al. Long live Speedy Ortiz and long live lo-fi.

SCORE – 8.8

FAVORITE TRACKS – Pioneer Spine, Tiger Tank, No Below, Fun, Cash Cab, MKVI


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This entry was posted on July 20, 2013 by in Reviews and tagged , , , , .
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