Pablos Choice – Record of the Week 27/04/2018 – Speedy Ortiz – Twerp Verse
27th April 2018
Twerp Verse hads been receiving rave reviews read a few below.
In emulation of the album itself, let’s skip the preamble and get right to the heart of this — Twerp Verse, the third LP from Massachusetts quartet Speedy Ortiz, is damn fantastic. From the first moments of opener “Buck Me Off”, the album hits with an immediacy that doesn’t let up across its 11 tracks. Most remarkable, though, is that it marries two characteristics that typically make for odd bedfellows: its lyrics are socially conscious and steeped in the topical (while being poetically weird), but the tunes surrounding them are still a lot of fun. The band has always been uncompromising in its perspective, and with the current sociopolitical landscape, vocalist-guitarist Sadie Dupuis doubles down on addressing some grim cultural issues, all amid a bevy of melodic hooks. Twerp Verse features some of the band’s catchiest tunes thus far and finds Speedy Ortiz fully embracing earworm pop.
Sadie Dupuis has a knack for flipping the aperçu into self-fulfilling prophecy. “I’m blessed with perfect pitch/I waste it on songs that you never even heard of,” the singer-guitarist taunts on Twerp Verse. Even better is: “You hate the title but you’re diggin’ the song,” which isn’t actually prophetic because you can praise without equivocation Speedy Ortiz’s flair for the splendid title—this is a band whose digital self-released debut sported “Kinda Blew” and “Phish Phood.” Tense, knotted, suspicious of climaxes, their third official album is the right album at the right time for them.
For one, Dupuis hits a new peak of clarity. Self-composure distinguishes her from the competition; she would rather trace the filigrees of a wryness as endemic to her as it is to forebears Robert Forster and Liz Phair than give the impression that the inarticulate and often clueless men who populate these songs bother her. As her melody line follows the sinews of the intro riff of “Can I Kiss You?,” she seems to think out the degrees of lust necessary to make her jump through hoops for the sake of a boy. On “Alone with Girls,” drummer Michael Falcone’s harmonies complement a story of abjuring the company of dumb dudes.
4 **** DIY MAG
Speedy Ortiz have always been a band with an established knack for turning the personal political, presenting cutting social dissections through the lens of kaleidoscopic, surreal worlds. New album ‘Twerp Verse’ is every bit as fantastical, too; this time through its deft manipulation of language.
Approaching her lyricism like a guest (or twerp) verse across the entire record, Sadie Dupuis piles in the witty linguistic tricks like her time could be up at any second; bizarre flips of familiar idioms and peculiar peeks of complex imagery with a poetic bent shaping the entire creation. The result of a re-think (Speedy binned an album’s worth of “lovey-dovey” songwriting) a stand-out comes from ‘Villain’, written early on in proceedings. “I wanna know what kind of porn you like,” coos the mocking hook, belittling a strange man asking unsolicited, invasive questions as you attempt to get on with your day.
Though the majority of ‘Twerp Verse’ was written after Sad13’s solo debut ‘Slugger’, it’s easy to spot the creative similarities between the two, and the result is a sharpening of Speedy Ortiz’s axe to grind. Succinct, wry, and in tune with its context, there’s plenty to unpick, here.
Seven years removed from Yuck’s self-titled debut, and while the 90s alt-rock revival isn’t dead, it’s no longer able to subsist on nostalgia. If a band wants to make an impression beyond reminding listeners where their smears of distortion and angsty lyrics originated from, they need to be focused and put themselves in the shoes of a fan hungry for something at least somewhat inspired. Otherwise, they’ll produce something as forgettable as the last Bully album.
With three albums to their name, Speedy Ortiz know that they can’t risk coasting on scrappy charm. That’s not to disparage their first two albums: Major Arcana and Foil Deer, but to praise Twerp Verse, their third album. Produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley) and mastered by Emily Lazar (Sia, Haim), this album feels like the training wheels have come off, and Speedy Ortiz can really show what they’re capable of.
Building on the momentum of her Sad13 project – an optimistic, self-produced pop record which critiqued the industry’s male gaze, Sadie Dupuis breathes a kitschy pop sensibility to Twerp Verse, the third LP from her indie-grunge outfit Speedy Ortiz. The title, Dupuis said in a press release, refers to “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 kind of accidentally on purpose charm is what drives Twerp Verse.
But despite being decorated with perky synths, new guitarist Andy Molholt (of Philadelphia psych band Laser Background) supplies enough fuzz to rescue he record from the saccharine. Backslidin’ collapses into a rich, scratchy crescendo, while the sound of clipping gives Alone with Girls an anxious tint. Closer You Hate The Title boasts one of the brightest pop melodies on the LP, yet the lyrics make sharp observations about how people respond to those who speak out: “You hate the title, but you’re digging the song. You like it in theory, but it’s rubbing you wrong,” Dupuis sings on top of the sparkling production.
WATCH THE VIDEO FOR “LUCKY 88” BELOW