With Foil Deer, Speedy Ortiz fully owns its style, quirks and neuroses on a level that would have been unimaginable circa 2013’s Major Arcana. Retaining a charming, inside-out tunelessness, the Northampton, Mass., quartet—coyly enough—permits tinges of saccharine to crowd the sour, and displays a newly intuitive sense of dynamics.
That guitarist/primary songwriter Sadie Dupuis recognized the need for Betty Rizzo and Angie Tempura archetypes in mod-indie is a bonus. Even at their most confident, Throwing Muses or Helium would never have written as backhandedly aggro a hoodied She-Ra anthem as “Raising The Skate.” Her ever tack-sharp mixed metaphors flow like wine; crunchy “The Graduates,” anti-tempo “Zig” and shove punk-y “Swell Content” passive-aggressively teem with them.
Elsewhere, low-end and noise-funk reign on the turgid, uncharacteristic “Puffer,” while “Dvrk Wvrld” (an uncomfortable, stormy dirge that seems to revolve around a rape) might contain the most vulnerable lyrics Dupuis has ever written.
Recent chatter around the water cooler concerns the strides Tom Jenkinson has taken toward injecting harsher, more aggressive elements into his IDM/drum ‘n’ bass/break-beats/whathaveyou on the 14th Squarepusher full-length. Whether there’s a broader message of discontent with government, anger at the general state of the world or an aggressive midlife crisis bubbling under Damogen Furies (as usual, compositions are instrumental) is something only the man buried under all the gear knows, but the beats of “Kwang Bass” and “Kontenjaz” are more furious, head-spinning, clipped and cutting.
Simultaneously, hooks and melodies are employed that forage through the fury to knock on pop music’s backdoor (“Stor Eiglass”), essentially drawing flies with honey before pouring vinegar all over ’em. Jenkinson continues his adroitness at transforming disparate juxtapositions of R2-D2 blips and bloops, deep bass drops and masterfully processed keyboard duels into sonic sculptures that are futuristically dense and engagingly hip-shaking.
For a band that titles its album No Control, Turbo Fruits really seem to have their shit together. We’re loath to call No Control “mature”—the Fruits are still the same stoned goofballs they’ve always been—but this new record finds the band making the tightest, most focused rock tunes of its career.
The drug-fueled buffoonery takes a back seat to the tension between teenage kicks and adult concerns, passion and failure, love and confusion. There is nary a wasted moment on No Control, as the Fruits have become such a fine-tuned machine that each note and bar explodes out of the stereo. Songs like “Need To Know,” with its guitarmony-laden coda, and woozy lead single “Don’t Let Me Break Your Heart Again” burrow deep into the listener’s brain and bounce around for days.
—Sean L. Maloney