Sadie Dupuis has an incredible voice. What makes it even better is that the music she makes with her band, Speedy Ortiz, is often quirky; the kind of music that seems disjointed, but then appears suddenly hooky, providing earworms for days. With Twerp Verse, the third Speedy Ortiz full length, Dupuis plays to her band’s strengths while expanding their sound.
Since their first self-released single in 2011, Speedy Ortiz have continued to solidify their stature as one of the most relevant band of the twenty-tens 90’s rock revival. Each record sees them grow more confident in their sound, while Dupuis continues to grow more confident in her songwriting. Twerp Verse is not quite as noisy as the band’s previous releases, owed to an increased presence of synth sounds (which Dupuis previously experimented with on a side project, SAD 13), and production handled by Mike Mogis (of Bright Eyes fame).
The growth in sound is evident on the first single, “Lucky 88.” At first listen, this doesn’t seem to be the same band that gave us songs like “Plough” and “Cash Cab” (from Major Arcana), but in the context of the full record it works, and fits incredibly well. There is plenty on the latest work that reminds one of the previous Speedy Ortiz records though. “Sport Death,” in particular sounds like it could’ve easily fit on the Foil Deer release from 2015. “Villians” on the other hand, lands somewhere in between. It takes advantage of the new flourishes and experimentation while sounding firmly like Speedy Ortiz. Dupuis has never sounded more confident than she does on Twerp Verse and Mogis’ production touches give this album more depth than previous Speedy Ortiz records.
Speedy Ortiz is the 90’s throwback band we need in 2018. Dupuis never asks for sympathy on Twerp Verse. She is a supremely confident front-person, lyrically passionate with an extremely modern sensibility. Musically, jazz influences abound in the bass lines, while the guitar work and song structure remind one of the female fronted bands that preceded Speedy Ortiz (looking at you Veruca Salt). If you like smart, challenging indie rock with a good bit of fuzz, this is a record you want to hear.
What sets Speedy Ortiz apart from the bands that laid the groundwork for what they are doing is the adventurousness of Dupuis’ guitar playing. The hooks aren’t immediately apparent. Twerp Verse (like all Speedy Ortiz records, really) is a grower. Give this one a few listens to really let it sink in. Dupuis and her band mates bury the hooks between challenging tempo changes. That, along with Dupuis’ astute lyrical styling and remarkable voice, makes Twerp Verse a cocktail that goes down really, really well.
For fans of: Ex Hex, Allison Crutchfield, Veruca Salt, Bikini Kill, punk rock jazz clubs
Our take: Twerp Verse is a challenging, yet rewarding, listen that should appeal to anyone with a penchant for indie rock bands that take inspiration from the groups that came before them, but are firmly planted in the now.