By Caroline Ackerman
Massachusetts-based band Speedy Ortiz released their anticipated second album, “Foil Deer” on Sunday, April 21 with Carpark Records. “Foil Deer” recognizes Speedy Ortiz’s ability to effortlessly combine upbeat punk with lackadaisical pessimism. The band consists of vocalist and guitarist Sadie Dupuis, guitarist Devin McKnight, drummer Mike Falcone and bassist Darl Ferm. The talented members have joined forces to create Speedy Ortiz and lay the groundwork for the bright future of both indie and punk.
After a minute of gradually intensifying music, Speedy Ortiz’s vocalist Dupuis opens the sophomore album with a drawl on “Good Neck.” The minute-long song kicks off a twelve-track album bursting at the seams from the combination of Dupuis’ lilting vocals and uncompromising lyrics backed by raw instrumentals. “Got a lack of woe. I’ve known you not so very long, but watch your back, because baby’s so good with a blade,” Dupuis sings on the opener.
While the band’s first album, “Major Arcana,” and following EPs maintained a quietly fresh and polite attitude, the newest album has a falsely buoyant pretense and provides an excellent platform for Dupuis to share her unwillingness to back down. The album’s second song “Raising the Skate” leaves Dupuis commanding, “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.” The lyrics are relentless, yet poetic—a true ode to Dupuis’ background as a songwriting teacher at a summer camp, where the idea for Speedy Ortiz began with recordings on her laptop.
“Foil Deer” is not to be mistaken as easy listening. In classic punk fashion, the album challenges societal groupthink and the push to conform. The song “Dot X” gives way to this with the harmonized lyrics: “You know by now, with all these drops of blood, it is love moonballing bureaucrats. With all this love, it is death. Get in the van and take my hand. We’re onto the next life, smothered and fond, not redolent. Scarred and it’s tiresome.” Almost all of the lyrics throughout the album are equally arcane, and with the addition of complex musicality, “Foil Deer” absolutely requires a second listen.
Speedy Ortiz manages to balance out the punk attitude of the album with songs containing relatable lyrics for everyone who has experienced adolescence and the awkward shift to adulthood on their latest album. “Ginger” kicks off with a tale of squalid parties and awkward wallflowers. The slower songs dispersed throughout the album have lyrics that tend to maintain this sort of factual, melancholic attitude, an attitude without regret and bitter nostalgia, which is refreshing to find in the indie genre.
Contrary to the “The Graduates” lyric, which claims, “I was the best at being second place,” the album is certainly not a failure and defeats any possibility of Speedy Ortiz having a sophomore flop. “Foil Deer” is polished yet gives off a necessary edgy vibe and contains lyrical content and composure that only Speedy Ortiz can pull off. Overall the band’s sophomore effort is enjoyably high-octane, and a complete success throughout.
Caroline Ackerman can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.