Speedy Ortiz keeps getting louder, gnarlier and ballsier, and it is utterly satisfying and brain-rattling.
Every song has its moment. The back third of “American Horror” burns everything down and leaves a cloud of guitar fuzz. The chords get particularly dissonant on “Oxygal,” as Sadie Dupuis drops her voice into a lower, darker place, only to pitch up into a near-whine for the chorus. A shivering and queasy guitar at the beginning of “Shine Theory” gives way to some crushingly heavy riffs.
And the pain of the past hasn’t gone away. “I wanna want him so bad / But I don’t recognize the charms that he has / ‘Cause my heart looks in on itself / And he’d be better by someone else / Who cares about a face.” Or how about the simple, “Now we better part ways so nobody sees / Sucking up the mist, I guess it was real.”
It’s still whip smart, too. Just read through the lyrics for “Oxygal.” It’s bursting with hallmarks of a songwriter who studied poetry at M.I.T. and Barnard. All of the lyrics need some untangling and decoding, and you may never work it out, but all the better. Even in the absence of explicit meaning, you can feel them like a gut punch.
Real Hair proves that, for all the similarities to Pavement or Dinosaur Jr., Speedy Ortiz is its own band with its own ideas, thoughts and feelings. Plus, substance and ambitions aside, they’ll blow your hair back.