Real Hair by Speedy Ortiz (EP)

11 February, 2014 in Music Reviews

Speedy Ortiz

‘Real Hair’ is a brilliant slab of 90s indie-rock that’s not a revivalist’s heaven but a rival for heaven itself

Speedy Ortiz Real Hair EPt must seem an awfully long time ago that Sadie Dupuis was holed up in a New York apartment, rubbing guitar strings together to keep the ink in her pen from freezing as she carved out a hidden existence as a freelance writer. The chill and frostbite may have dissipated, but the cool wind has not deserted Dupuis. Now, though, it fires the smouldering riffs that have made Speedy Ortiz one of the hottest guitar bands in the world right now.

To those who’ve heard the band’s exceptional Sports EP and outstanding debut album Major Arcana, it comes as no surprise. So replete were those records with riffs contagious enough to rival the common cold for sheer virulence, you would need to have drowned yourself in a bowl of Vicks Vapour Rub to have been immune from their spiky charm. If you still have those records being drip-fed into your ears, then you’ll will be sweetly delighted by the four tracks on Real Hair. Everything that made Speedy Ortiz so great is still there, but given an even fuller taste.

Opener American Horror retains the claustrophobic distortion of Gary and Casper (1995) but doesn’t so much draw you in as grab you with its Fender-rattled claws. Oxygal has the same capacity to evoke the early 90s heyday of alt-rock, but also inspires the sense that 2014 is a rival apex of tattered Converses. Shine Theory leaves you questioning just how close to the Everest of Gigantic it would have climbed had it come from the songwriting canon of Black Francis. The high-point of Real Hair though is Everything’s Bigger, which, alongside Tiger Tank and Basketball, makes a very loud claim to be the best song that Speedy Ortiz have written. So far.

Following one of the finest indie-rock debuts of any memory was always going to be a tough gig to crack. Yet Real Hair is not just a worthy follow-up to Major Arcana, but a step up. By making their next release an EP Speedy Ortiz have also played a skilful hand, opting to present fans with a condensed sample of their thriving songwriting prowess and leaving them cooing at the prospect of album number two.

Verdict: A brilliant EP by indie-rock’s brightest stars

Damien Girling