Speedy Ortiz – “Foil Deer” Review

Posted: by Henderson

In my eyes, Speedy Ortiz are already huge. Their debut LP, Major Arcana, cemented them in my mind as one of the premier indie bands. I just assume that everyone knows Speedy and their consistently high quality of releases. Maybe the rest of the world isn’t sure yet, but I know Speedy Ortiz are here to stay. Their recently released second LP, Foil Deer, has more than confirmed my initial belief. This record shows incredible songwriting, addicting jams, and more than anything else, limitless potential to continue providing us listeners with more of the same for a long time.

Speedy Ortiz have a punky anti-pop vibe around them, yet their music is melodic and their songs are as catchy as any recent alternative rock, kinda like a grittier darker version of Adventures. On the new LP they’ve dropped most of the loud fuzzy guitars found on Major Arcana, and replaced them with tight guitars that only occasionally expand into fuller jams. With much of the clutter of previous releases removed the vocals and lyrics are front and center, and man, do they shine in the spotlight.

Sadie Dupuis, vocalist and songwriter for Speedy Ortiz, writes empowering verses about taking control of life, slacking off, and rebelling against others’ expectations. Her vocals remind me a lot of my favorite parts of Metric. Powerful words, varied tones, and smooth melodies to keep me hooked. The lyrics are the star of this record and they continue to grow on me with each listen.

Foil Deer is not a perfect album, but there are some PERFECT tracks on this album. After opening with a guitar buildup track (which is essentially a warm up), the album works into its best track “Raising The Skate”. Sadie’s talk vocals over cool guitars build into an empowering refrain that makes me what to take over the world. The track builds incredible tension without any unnecessary screams or effects. The song is an absolute gem and I can’t think of a single change I’d make. It’s tracks like this that lead me to believe Speedy Ortiz have many more hits up their sleeves.

On the next track, “The Graduates”, Sadie’s vocals evolve into full singing, as she talks about rebellious youth and provides another catchy hook, and just when you think you’ve got the song figured out, the vocal style changes in its final minute, injecting new life into the 4 minute jam. Small variations like this keep the album incredibly fresh and help the longer tracks sustain their energy.

Another example is when Sadie surprisingly sings “Is it getting old sealing all your kisses with poison?” in the quick and driving ‘Swell Content’. I can’t help but fall on the floor. Where did that come from? Nothing in the song even sounds similar to it vocally or lyrically, and its perfect! 

And after such an energetic jam, the next songs, ‘Zig’ and ‘My Dead Girl’, slow it down and still kill it both lyrically and with their relaxed yet unnerving instrumentals. Their is a distinctly angry  and rebellious vibe to everything about this record. Like a towering anti-hero, the tracks both inspire and frighten.

While the instrumentation isn’t often the highlight on this album it consistently inserts cool elements into each track. A sweet drum fill, a unique riff, a deadly bass line, a little effect here and there. They’re almost never in the forefront, but upon each listen I find something new in the instrumentals to enjoy.

The variety on this album is just what I look for. Each track is different and experiments a bit from the band’s formula. Some tracks are slower and dreamier, while others pack an aggressive punch. Some tracks fall behind the few truly incredible songs on the album, but there are no bad songs. After Foil Deer and Major Arcana, I’m not sure there is much Speedy Ortiz can’t accomplish.