After too much time freelance writing and watching re-runs in a windowless Brooklyn basement, guitarist and songwriter Sadie Dupuis left New York City for the wilds of Northampton, MA in order to pursue a master’s degree in poetry. In doing so, she began Speedy Ortiz, a self-recorded lo-fi project named after a minor character from the Love and Rockets comic series. Speedy Ortiz soon became something else entirely as bassist Darl Ferm, guitarist Matt Robidoux, and drummer Mike Falcone teamed up to form a full band, balancing abrasive noise with infectious earworms. The newly minted Speedy Ortiz quickly found an audience in the Boston DIY scene, playing frequently with their friends Pile, Grass is Green, Fat History Month, Sneeze, Krill, and Arvid Noe.
Almost immediately, the band recorded a two-song single, “Taylor Swift” and “Swim Fan,” with Paul Q. Kolderie (Pixies, Hole) and Justin Pizzoferrato (Chelsea Light Moving, Dinosaur Jr.), and self-released it in March of 2012. Shortly thereafter they spent a few weekends at the dingy yet atmospheric Sex Dungeon Studios in Philadelphia recording the Sports EP, a five-track, loosely conceptual 10” released that June on Exploding in Sound Records.
The creation of Major Arcana, their full-length debut, marks the evolution of Speedy Ortiz into a wholly collaborative effort. Darl leans toward basic, chunky parts, while Mike, a talented songwriter in his own right, helped arrange while also providing aggressive, boisterous drums. And Matt is a classically trained guitarist, but his experience in noise and experimental music comes through in his anti-melodic guitar solos, which counterbalance Sadie’s angular, scalar guitar riffs and poppy vocals.
The end result is a band able to distill their influences and creative impulses into something at once dissonant and melodic, noisy yet undeniably pop.