A Slew of Rejects
As far as female fronted indie rock acts go, Speedy Ortiz has some balls. Much like their very recent progenitors Sleigh Bells, the Massachusetts group seem far from content with spurting out formulaic songs laced with the cookie-cutter trappings of contemporary indie rock; i.e. soft-hitting, anti-tough guy rhythms, shiny clean guitars and sad-girl lyrics about feeling ignored, alienated or helpless.
Far, far from it, actually. The screaming, overdriven grind of Speedy’s lead guitars are made all the more so by the lush backdrop of their rhythm section and lead vocalist Sadie Depuis’s sultry yet stern croon. On the remix-filled EP Foiled Again, her lyrics remain refreshingly confrontational, riddled with images of knives and physical clashes and mental exhaustion. The record’s two originals (cuts that presumably didn’t make it onto last years similarly titled Foil Deer) still drip with Smashing Pumpkins and Dinosaur Jr. influence. Thick bridge pickup grime cuts through the pastoral clearing of “Death Note.” Though the head-bob pace never wavers, somewhere in the calamitous bursts lies the beating heart of Speedy Ortiz’ appeal. Their music feels adventurous while also traditionalist. The synths they only occasionally whip out never linger or drone needlessly on alongside the guitar chords as so many of their contemporaries are wont to do.
With that said, some of the remixing feels questionably necessary. Swaggering dirge “Puffer” was already half-way to a trip-hop song before the EP’s guest producers got their hands on it, which makes you wonder exactly whose brilliant idea it was to pile dub-style echoes and even more noise layers onto a song that was decently trippy before outsiders started meddling it. Open Mike Eagle’s stutter-step trap remix is particularly baffling. Chopped down to its bones and screwed with every 808 tone at hand, synthesizers squelch and chir insistently with each snare hit. The stylistic dissonance between alt-rock and southern-fried grime -while fun in theory – feels awkward and forced, but not inexcusably so. After all, what better place to stick a wonky remix than an EP filled out with the previous record’s stepchildren?