Around the time of the tumultuous 2016 U.S. election, Speedy Ortiz were quietly regrouping themselves and readying their third album. Following their acclaimed woozy, grungy debut “Major Arcana” and its confident follow up, “Foil Deer,” guitarist and songwriter Sadie Dupuis indulged in her Peaches-meet-Britney Spears pop fantasies with fizzy, sinuous, and sex-positive anthems as Sad13. After her solo debut as Sad13, “Slugger,” and lengthy tour supporting the album, Dupuis had an artillery of love songs for album three. But after news of the election outcome broke, the band threw away all “strictly personal or lovey-dovey” songs and started to write equally angry and anxious songs about the current social and political climate. As a result, “Twerp Verse” stands as Speedy Ortiz’s most confident, biting, and refined album to date whose urgent message rings clear, and reinstates the fact that the personal is political.
Politics have always been imbued into Speedy Ortiz’s mission and public image, and has often shown itself in the band’s efforts for inclusivity. On “Twerp Verse” however, those politics and voices have risen above the rest of the noise and worked itself into the wry wit and complex melodies the band is known for, making for a stronger, more direct and purposeful album because of it. Straight from the opening line on the first song, ‘Buck Me Off,’ Dupuis calls out how blurred seemingly obvious boundaries can become on the ephemerality of the internet, “The year of the weird, bookended by booty pics I never posted.” By the time she gets to the explosive chorus, Dupuis is standing down all her demons head on, proclaiming “I’m in league with the devil, you better buck me off.”
Even after her foray into the pop realm, Speedy Ortiz’s crooked melodies and searing guitars still imbue many of the album’s strongest songs, like on the song “Backslidin’” about slipping back into the familiar comforts of old, toxic relationships. After crossing paths with an ex-flame, Dupuis narrates her relapse into old habits with her usual detached resolve, “I guess we’re backsliddin’ into hell, but at least we know each other well.” On other tracks, however, the band puts their already-offbeat melodies through Dupuis’ distorted pop filter, and these songs quickly become some of the band’s most accessible songs for new fans, like on the bright and snarling ‘Lucky 88.’ “One more time with reeling, you siphoned out the feeling,’ taunting the plethora of bros that every musician has to put up with before calling them straight out, “Try and work in this town without a silver spoon and foot in your mouth.”
In a press release for the album, the band said that the album could be summed up in the phrase “necessary brattiness.” In a post #MeToo landscape, Speedy Ortiz found inspiration in the voices and stories that are currently screaming after years of neglect and oversight. “Twerp Verse” also refuses to be silent, whether deflecting good guys turned sociopaths on songs like ‘Villian’ or defending themselves against relentless critics on ‘You Hate the Title,’ but never plays as someone profiting off of a new wave. Instead, the album soundtracks the minute details that show us how much times have changed and also how much more work we still have to do.
“Twerp Verse” is out now on Carpark Records. The album’s full track list is included below.
- Buck Me Off
2. Lean In When I Suffer
3. Lucky 88
4. Can I Kiss You?
6. Villain7.I’m Blessed
8. Sport Death
9. Alone with Girls
10. Moving In
11. You Hate The Title