Article by Andrés Alvarado
A certain courage is required to scratch an entire album on a gut-check. The setting is late 2016 and the people of the United States and the world would soon find out that Donald Trump would be the next president. Like many unhappy Americans, Sadie Dupuis was not one to complacently just sit back and accept the outcome. No! Instead she decided to undo all the work the band put forth for a 2016 release and head back to the drawing board. Stated Dupuis: “The songs on the [scrapped] album were strictly personal or lovey-dovey and just didn’t mean anything to me anymore.” Fast-forward into 2018 and Speedy Ortiz gives us Twerp Verse, a poetically written set of poignant anthems that conjure up relatable tales of tribulations jointed at the hip to atmospherically greyish riffs and channeled through the unwavering tenderness of Dupuis’ mollifying delivery.
Latest single “Villain” paints an all-too-relatable scene for the lady-folk. Warbles Dupuis “He talks like he knows me // So I’m being polite” which lyrically segues into “I wanna know what kind of porn you like // He asks me these questions // Did he earn the right? // No way.” The message is clear-cut and dark, as is the melody, yet through the grittiness lies a need to channel the song with semi-pop accessibility, akin to taking a deep breath in order to avoid ripping your hair out and peacefully stating your mind.
Opener “Buck Me Off” carries a penchant for 90s grunginess. It’s here where Darl Ferm’s bass and Andy Molholt’s guitar shine brightest and superbly display the grimiest riffs within Twerp Verse. Whereas “Lucky 88” gives a lighter tonality to strings and puts forth a shiner spotlight on Dupuis’ vocal chops and drummer Mike Falcone’s hi-hats finesse and bass-drum mastery.
Speedy Ortiz punch it in with the best of them on “Sport Death.” A heavier anthem that not only lifts spirits upon first listen, but also holsters a distinguishable and gratifying pop-punkish string-led innuendo during the chorus. Next, we land on “You Hate the Title,” the LP’s pop-crafted serving. Layers of synths and catchy hooks that present Speedy Ortiz in a different light within their own space. Lastly, for all the bells and whistles Twerp Verse may present, “Lean In When I Suffer” is arguable the shiniest bell and the clearest whistle. A number that tackles misconceptions of friendships and depressions through snazzy versification and melodic choppiness.
The biggest misstep on this LP lays on the muddiness created throughout. The lyricism is top-notch and, on their own, so is the string-work and individual track feel; however, once clustered together, it almost seems like one 33-minute track and then a 2-minute chilled pop finale. However; in the end, Twerp Verse is a forceful voice among the rising waves of empowered women. It’s contemporary and important, yet sweetly presented. The Speedy Ortiz foursome recently described Twerp Verse as “necessary brattiness,” but surely their dedicated and logical fan base would expunge “brattiness” from that motto. Cheers!
Score: 8/10 — Key Tracks: “Villain,” “Sport Death,” “Buck Me Off,” “Lucky 88,” “You Hate the Title,” “Lean In When I Suffer,” and “Backslidin’.”