Speedy Ortiz opens this year’s Twerp Verse with a reflection on last year: “The year of the weird/Bookended by booty pics I never posted,” Sadie Dupuis sings. “I’m in league with the devil/You better buck me off.” Indeed, the record casts a spell, with Dupuis’ coyly sweet voice countering clever lyrics that poke and gritty riffs that snarl. Speedy Ortiz will transport you back to the best smoke-filled basement show you ever saw.
What began as poet Dupuis’ solo project while working on her MFA at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst became a full band in late 2011, with Mike Falcone on drums, Darl Ferm on bass, and Andy Molholt of Laser Background on guitar. Named for a character who commits suicide in the comic Love and Rockets, the reference is geared for coping with sudden loss. The songs, in turn, are as unpredictable as they are agitated and distorted, a condition Speedy Ortiz dubbed “necessary brattiness.”
Twerp Verse is their third full-length release but second attempt at an album that was scrapped after the 2016 election. Its lyrics illuminate an understanding of the thankless work of self-preservation in the face of a pompous patriarchy. On “I’m Blessed,” for instance, Dupuis sings: “I am a witch, and I float above everyone who would do harm on me/I don’t wanna spend another night in jail, for possessing the skills which I learned to defend myself.” Speedy Ortiz digs deep into concepts of privilege and consent, and Twerp Verse casts the haters this closing quip: “You hate the title/But you’re digging the song.”