Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer
The Massachusetts indie rock band got a lot of listeners on the strength of their debut, 2013’s Major Arcana. Foil Deer doesn’t change the formula much, but in this case it’s definitely one of those “avoiding fixing if not broken” deals. As it was before, the band comes off on the surface like they’re another group dealing in crunchy 90s guitar nostalgia and recycled slacker ideology. Beneath that initial impression, however, Sadie Dupis’ lyrics reveal a depth of unease, sadness, and humor that a lot of the aforementioned 90s bands would have killed to possess. The first verse of the best track on here, “The Graduates”, bears this out: “We were the French club dropouts / But we never got excused from class / The secretary must have been high / To turn a blind eye on us sneaking out back / And we were pregnant on the balcony / And you caught me with a cigarette / I never put the thing on my lips / Just crushed it and spit on where I laid it to rest”. Don’t let the high school references fool you, though – “The Graduates” is a song about crushing on your friends in general, and was written specifically about Dupis’ now-boyfriend Dylan Baldi, he of Cloud Nothings fame.
The problem with basing interesting song writing around 90s alt-rock/grunge nostalgia, of course, is that it becomes hard to separate the tracks after a while, since they’re constructed out of the same distorted power chords and thundering drums we’ve been listening to since 1992. Given some time to pick it apart, however, Foil Deer reveals itself to be one of the better alt-rock retreads to come out recently. This sounds like a backhanded compliment, and it is.