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Sweet mysteries on Speedy Ortiz album

Posted by Scott McLennan  July 1, 2013 03:41 PM

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Sadie Dupuis sings sweetly on the new Speedy Ortiz album, "Major Arcana," her gentle, calm tone belying the tumult in her poetic lyrics and serving as a contrast to the band's serrated music.

Based in Northampton, Speedy Ortiz makes a brand of artful noise pop that caught on around Boston and sparked a single and EP last year. The 10-song "Major Arcana" lets the band roam even more, accentuating a lighter touch on "No Below" and full-blown chaos on "MKVI."

Typically, though, the songs are not just one thing. Instead, Speedy Ortiz_ rounded out by guitarist Matt Robidoux, bassist Darl Fern, and drummer Mike Falcone_ favors dynamic shifts and turns over smooth, straight-ahead deliveries. On "Tiger Tank," for instance, the music comes crashing in before receding into a hypnotic riff that slowly turns maniacal _appropriate accompaniment to Dupuis' dark lines ("I don't care if they take my legs; I've limped before, I can limp again").

"Cash Cab" is a hectic and knotty; "Plough" is slender and wobbly.


Speedy Ortiz (Shawn Brackbill photo)

But all these different textures still rely on a decent devotion to squalling guitar rock of the sort Dinosaur Jr, Pavement, and Helium deployed in previous waves of indie rock. The burly and banged-up tone suits Dupuis' lyrics, which, while never direct narrative, are vivid and haunting.

It may take a few listens to catch all of the details she weaves into a song, but Dupuis does manage at least one neon line that you immediately notice in a song and becomes its hook. Maybe it's the deadpan delivery of "I've still got plasma coming through" or the steely "You picked a virgin over me," something will inevitably present itself as bait to go deeper into the intrigue Speedy Ortiz crafts across "Major Arcana."

The record is out July 9 on Carpark Records, and Speedy Ortiz is playing a release show Saturday, July 6, at Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave., Allston. The show is at 9 p.m. and also features Grass is Green, and the Vegans.

Here a couple of tracks off of "Major Arcana":

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About the author

Scott McLennan is a Boston Globe music correspondent and previously wrote a music and entertainment column for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for 15 years. After seeing the band Boston in the Boston Garden as a teenager he never looked back and eventually figured out how to be a professional fan. Scott is very good at writing in the dark. This blog is an ongoing discussion about music happening in and around Boston. Scott will be leading the trek across genres looking for new releases and hot shows as well as just checking in with the people who make Boston such a great place to listen. More »
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