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Album Review | Speedy Ortiz: Major Arcana

Speedy Ortiz is here to bring back the sounds of the early 90s with their distorted and dissonant guitars, abstract vocals, and heavy rhythm section. If you’ve been yearning for the return of the indulgent sound of early alt-rock, then you’d be a fool to not check out this record. If not, well, then you might not really like it.


The songs on this album are of a solid variety, ranging from soft to loud, slow to fast, and are all tied together by Sadie Dupuis’ sweet and charming voice. The guitar work of Matt Robidoux might be a bit polarizing for some with his odd use of chords at times, but the fact that he’s apparently classically trained is probably why he’s able to pull it off; he’s obviously well versed enough in music theory to know his limits and pushes the envelope to the ultimate acceptable level so that it still sounds cool.


There really are some great, catchy choruses on tracks like the boisterous “Tiger Tank” and “No Below” with it’s listful waltz. And when you compare the former’s gravid sound with the latter’s much lighter tone, it’s hard not to be impressed by the group’s ability to craft a good hook no matter the dynamic level or time signature. As for a lot of the others, it may take awhile to become fully engrossed in them, but once you do, it can be pretty hard not to let loose and jam out. Yet the group expertly uses this to their advantage on the seven-minute-long “Mkvi.” The song builds and builds to this absolutely thundering, climactic middle before devolving into an interesting denouement constructed around a crazy long ritarando that sees the musicians just having fun with decrease in tempo as they include as many fills as possible before it’s over. It’s an awesome rock moment and a fantastic way to end the album.

While Major Arcana isn’t a perfect debut by any means with it’s overtly niche qualities in a lot of parts, it does go after it’s core demographic like a maelstrom, which can definitely be seen as a worthwhile accomplishment. I only expect better things from here on out, with a growing listenership and hype by the time the next album inevitably gets produced.

Director of Digital | Radio Milwaukee