If it feels like you’ve heard the lyrics on Slugger somewhere before, it’s probably because you’re a woman and you’ve thought them all. Lines like “You just throw me ’round like trash / When I’m worth every dime you have,” from “Tell U What,” and the entirety of “Just a Friend”—in which Speedy Ortiz singer/guitarist Sadie Dupuis asks a significant other to trust that her friend Ben is just that—are the domain of half of the population.
If the album’s vocals and intimate production sound equally familiar, it’s probably because Exile in Guyville is one of your favorite albums (and rightfully so). Slugger has the same feel as Liz Phair’s 1993 masterpiece—self-contained, self-created, but eminently relatable. “Hype,” especially, feels like it was written and recorded in Chicago’s Wicker Park in the early ’90s, but it was born in Philadelphia’s Fishtown, Dupuis’s new homebase, this year.
When talking about Slugger, Dupuis has said she wanted to create pro-girl pop—something to counter the “toxic jealousy and ownership” that runs through canon hits like Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” and Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle.” She succeeds in avoiding the rivalry and jealousy of the first song and the weird male ownership of the second, but nothing on Slugger is as much of an earworm as either. That’s fine, though.
The closest she gets to something like “Genie in a Bottle,” musically, is “Get a Yes,” which may be the most important song on Slugger: “I say yes to the dress when I put it on / I say yes if I want you to take it off / I say yes for your touch when I need your touch / I say yes if I want to / If you want to you’ve gotta get a yes.” Now that we’ve lost Hillary Clinton for good and are facing a president whose most famous quote is “Grab ’em by the pussy,” “Get a Yes” feels less like a hell-yes anthem and more like a deadly serious set of rules to hold close and share widely.
If you’re not a woman, seek this album out. It’s important. If you are a woman, and you’re feeling a little shaken, add Slugger to your rotation for the next, oh, four or so years. Loudly, so everyone can hear.