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Review: ‘Real Hair EP’ by Speedy Ortiz

EP’s have always been a place where bands can feel free to explore their more experimental impulses. Maybe bring in new instruments, or let the drummer write a song. They can also serve as a “state of the band” address, giving the fans an idea of where the act is headed on their next full release. On Real Hair, the new EP from Speedy Ortiz, the band doesn’t do anything terribly drastic, but they offer up fours songs that showcase why they are probably the best pure indie rock band playing today.

“Cause you’re acting strap down crazy they keep you here for a whole week.” sings Sadie Dupuis on “American Horror.” She sings these lines in a shifting, frantic pitch, always staying in key, but stretching her range like silly putty. The instrumentation is all tumbling drums and shrieking guitars that sound like two signal sirens sending messages to one another. Somehow, it comes together to something resembling a pop song, and a catchy one at that. “Oxygal” is sludgy and slow, perhaps the closet the band has come to embracing full on metal. It is here where we can see Speedy Ortiz stretching their sound a bit. Telling a fractured story of rendezvous between a series of men and “Oxygirl” Speedy Ortiz create a menacing song in both lyric content and sound.

“Everything’s Bigger” is more of a B-side, sounding like a demo the band might have cut during the last album sessions. However, they save the best for last with “Shine Theory.” Using their twin guitars and bass to form a creeping progression, Sadie sings about her awkward courtship with a neighbor. “I want to want him so bad, but I don’t understand the charms he has.” she sings in a pleasant but off-putting voice that crawls along with the music. It may not be a new high water mark for the band, but it’s definitely amongst the best songs they’ve written, and an encouraging sign for where the band might go next.

Speedy Ortiz didn’t need to record this EP. Their excellent debut album is a mere 7 months old, but the band is clearly at a juncture where they are writing new material at a fever pitch. For those who enjoy their sincere revival of 90’s indie rock, the four songs on this EP is a welcome gift from a band that is still perfecting their sound. Real Hair is a reminder that this band won’t be radically revising their sound any time soon, but a sharper, tighter and all around greater Speedy Ortiz are busy honing their craft.

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