One for the fans
Speedy Ortiz have released The Death of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker…Forever, a new compilation featuring the band’s debut full-length album remastered for the first time with unreleased material. The debut takes up the majority of the first disc, while the rest consists of unheard demos and early recordings. Their debut captures the immediacy of a group of musicians exploring new textures and ideas within the framework of alternative music. The sound of their first album can be most easily described as lo-phi, acoustic-driven indie. While this new compilation is a boon for fans, it could be potentially obscure for new listeners.
“Cutco” was the lead single and video for this project and is the most accessible track for general audiences. The jangling guitars and bright drums convey the ambiance of the room the band recorded in as well as the bubbling frustration delivered through the lyrics. “Kinda Blew” stands out among the other tracks because of its dirge-like quality. The slow-moving drums and molasses-tempo allow the band to revel in the sounds they are making. It’s decidedly downbeat but still captures the group’s energy. The lyrics are intentionally absurd to throw off the listener, but if people pay attention, the patterns begin to reveal themselves. The band plays with oxymorons, hyperboles, and contradicting thoughts to throw us into the metaphorical deep end.
“Teething” has a simple beat that lays the foundation for a repeated melody that pulls against the clashing vocals. “Let’s Get Evicted” is an ode to communal living that’s as hopeful and idealistic as it is sad. The lyrics and instrumentation clash against each other like waves against unforgiving shore. “Deady” contrasts down-tuned guitars with a lilting vocal melody that dances over a darkened graveyard. The closing song, “Son Of,” is a love song for a science experiment gone wrong.
Although the style of the band’s early work can be charming, it can become excessively dissonant as well. “Bill Sauce,” for example, takes this to an extreme. The distorted guitars and drum loop dig in harshly while the vocals grate on top. The desired effect is one of industrial machinery, churning and pressing metal into shape. Speedy Ortiz use this style sparingly, but it could be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to make the audience feel physically uncomfortable.
Speedy Ortiz have become a staple of alternative music in the past decade. Their new compilation, The Death of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker…Forever, celebrates this achievement. Fans will find this a rewarding listen, while others might be better off with the group’s newer material.