Album: Major Arcana
Record Label: Carpark
Dripping with college attitude, humour and reflective, sexual romanticism, "Major Arcana" is exactly how '90s revivalism should be
Female power in music is something that has never been in short supply if you look for it. People like Kate Bush, Kim Deal, Joanna Newsom and Patti Smith have all exerted considerably vocal force over the male specimen, making him seem weak when compared to their spectres. Sadie Dupris, front woman of angular Massachusetts college rockers Speedy Ortiz, is another woman who through her way with words and snarling, self- confident attitude is exercising the power of female superiority, whether consciously or not. On "Major Arcana", Speedy Ortiz's debut full- length, it's via a series of stories that revel with bitterness, humour, pent up sexual frustration and reflective high- school romance. All of this is held up by meandering, angular indie rock that wears both the slackerish charm and influence of the likes of Pavement, The Breeders, Pixies and Hole with pride.
"Hitch" is the epitome of the aforementioned angular guitar technology the band deal in, but it's also got a bitingly sassy edge as Dupris sings "Keep below, I want to fuck you... now you know I want to numb you." "Casper (1995)" is a strangely sexy crawl through virtuosity drenched guitar playing, with quips from Dupris like "Kids keep telling each other spectre stories just to get each other horny." "No Below" is a mournful recounting of a high- school relationship that recalls the slower moments on Weezer's "The Blue Album", whilst the excellently vitalised "Plough" finds her lovelorn and bitter in the wake of a manipulative man as she ponders "Why d'you pick a virgin over me?".
Dupris' songwriting may more often than not concern itself with the melancholy end of the lyrical spectrum, but the energy and skill applied to "Major Arcana" means that Speedy Ortiz also sound vital, righteous and elegant. It's a concoction of meticulously detailed story telling and equally as interesting musicianship, and thus recalls a lot of the ingredients that made all the '90s greats so appealing. This is how '90s revivalism should be done.
Key tracks: Hitch, Plough, Casper (1995)
For fans of: Pavement, The Breeders, Pixies