Major Arcana by Speedy Ortiz (Album)

5 July, 2013 in Music Reviews

Speedy Ortiz

Speedy Ortiz suggest they have what it takes to be at the forefront of modern indie-rock with their excellent debut

Speedy Ortiz-Albumpeedy Ortiz vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Sadie Dupuis says that she models her vocal style on Pavement leader Stephen Malkmus, and while it would be unfair to suggest that Speedy Ortiz derive their identity from the indie-rock legends, the comparison does not end in the vocal similarity.

Pavement’s Slanted And Enchanted is regularly held up as one of the totems of indie-rock, with its jagged guitar riffs and odd time signatures; rightly so, too. The influence of that classic album can be heard throughout Speedy Ortiz’s full length debut Major Arcana, a record that has been keenly awaited since the Massachusetts band’s excellent 2012 EP Sports. It doesn’t disappoint. Full of crunchy songs that are as sinister as they are catchy, the band display a real skill for the indie-rock staple of quiet/loud, soft/hard verses and choruses.

However, it’s not just Pavement whose influence can be heard on Major Arcana. Tiger Tank – a little morose, yet never without its sense of humour – would sit seamlessly on Blur’s art rock masterpiece 13. Casper (1995) has a jangly melody that shows the influence of post-rock pioneers Slint and Gary is a slice of grunge pop good enough to have seen Speedy Ortiz amongst the Seattle gods of the 90s. No Below, though, is inescapably Pavement-inspired.

What’s notable is the chemistry between the band members. Each guitar part is backed by a bassline that sounds as though the two instruments are in the honeymoon period of a musical relationship, while the drums and laconic vocals draw the songs brilliantly along.

After Slanted And Enchanted, Pavement released the equally magnificent Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, securing the band an impeachable position in the pantheon of indie-rock. Given the quality of Major Arcana, if Speedy Ortiz’s next release is as good then the band will see cement their position as one of the gems of modern indie-rock.

Verdict: An excellent collection of indie-rock gems

Damien Girling

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