Speedy Ortiz, “Twerp Verse”
When Trump won last November, a lot of people were shocked. Four such people were the members of Speedy Ortiz, the rock band from Northampton, Massachusetts, who had already written their third album but decided it needed to be scrapped in favor of something more socially conscious, given the sad new state of the union.
Any fans expecting a riotous invective against 45 will be disappointed. If the lyrics on this album are meant as a direct reaction to the destructive dangers of a Trump administration—or at least as a response to the ensuing carnage—they don’t come across as so. A few exceptions include “Villain,” a necessary kick in the balls to the prevalent culture of sexual harassment and misogyny—set to a suitably pissed off and disaffected grunge-inspired melody, no less—and jaunty album closer “You Hate the Title,” which takes issue, abstractly and poetically rather than directly, with the patriarchy.
The band, fronted by Sadie Dupuis, who released her phenomenal solo album as Sad13 at the end of 2016, deliberately favor Pavement-inspired oddness in an attempt to introduce some levity into these songs. But it’s an unnecessary whimsy, and one that serves more to erase (or at least reduce) the passion and fire that was present in their first two records, which is ultimately needed if these songs are to make the statement the band intends.
Of course, songs and artists don’t have to be political—there’s nothing wrong with fighting back against intolerance and justice with beauty or absurdity—but they should at least feel invested in and engaged with the world around them. That is where this record stumbles somewhat—even outside of a political context, it sounds a little disconnected.