by Zoë Sommers
A lot has changed for Speedy Ortiz in the last 10 years. The act, originally a solo project of multi-instrumentalist Sadie Dupuis, has gained a few members, growing into the sound that Dupuis introduced in her time as an MFA student at UMass Amherst. Armed with a laptop and a passion for prose, Dupuis wrote, recorded, and released theCop Kicker EP and The Death of Speedy Ortiz in 2011. Until November 12, the songs off these releases could only be found after some digging on YouTube, but in honor of the band’s 10th anniversary, The Death of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker… Forever was re-released, remastered, and re-recorded. This album commemorates a decade of broody, loud, and almost crass bedroom-rock music, with some previously unreleased additions.
The music born out of Dupuis’ original projects is rough, and the lyricism is disjointed and packs a punch. In “Cutco,” she sings “If all my friends wanna cut me into bits / They should throw me on the skillet / Make a dinner out of what they get.” It’s certainly written to get a reaction, but performed in a way that makes any listener want to sing along. The song itself is catchy and upbeat, and it’s tempting to start humming along to the concurrent guitar riff before realizing what she’s actually saying.
In “Frankenweenie,” she drawls about accepting a partner’s abusive behavior: “You choke me you play cruel / But I don’t blame you / I grinned through it all / I was your good dog.” In “Deady,” one of the band’s previously unreleased songs, Dupuis says “I wish I was dead / With a bullet through my head.” The drama of these lyrics is never communicated in a way that would actually make a listener stop and wonder if Dupuis needed a shoulder to cry on, or a professional to talk to. She maintains a level of buoyancy that always makes her words feel safe to sing along to, despite how worrisome they might sound if spoken plainly.
As a whole, the album is just a much fresher version of the original music that Dupuis wrote herself. In terms of production, a deep cut like “Ka-Prow!” underwent a pretty significant change with the entire central guitar riff and tempo slowed down, though most songs on the album were settled with a deep clean and a facelift. Basically, the band brushed up the original music until it ceased to sound like it was recorded on a laptop.
In addition to the remaster, Speedy Ortiz also released two music videos to accompany the album, one for a self-titled song, and another for “Cutco.” Both were filmed in a sort of home-video style that feels very true to the nature of the band, with a vision that never gets lost in too much production.
The Death of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker… Forever is an impressive reminder of where Speedy Ortiz came from and how it has developed – from a solo project to a truly collaborative effort – in the last decade. This album successfully showcases just how much Dupuis’ original artistry was able to grow with the support of some talented bandmates and a budget to record.