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Speedy Ortiz advance their musicianship on Rabbit Rabbit

"Rabbit Rabbit"

Release date: 01 September 2023
Speedy Ortiz Rabbit Rabbit cover
31 August 2023, 19:00 Written by Greg Hyde

Indie rock quartet Speedy Ortiz formed in Northampton, Massachusetts in 2011.

Having begun life as a solo self-release featuring lo-fi tape recordings of songs written by lead guitarist and vocalist Sadie Dupuis, the critical acclaim that greeted their debut full-length album, Major Arcana, two years later led to them being characterised as representing part of a “scene” consisting of other emerging US indie bands of the time such as Parquet Courts and Cloud Nothings. Fast forward, and the group are now releasing their fourth full-length album (and first in five years since 2018's Twerp Verse), Rabbit Rabbit.

The album begins underwhelmingly with “Kim Cattrall”, a mid-tempo song on which Dupuis’ vocals are placed slightly too high up in the mix. The pace picks up somewhat on “You S02”. Dupuis and rhythm guitarist Andy Molholt then deliver some powerful riffs on “Plus One”. This musical quality proves to be Rabbit Rabbit’s key strength. The two guitarists do some great work throughout the album, notably on songs such as “Ranch vs. Ranch”, “The Sunday”, and the closing pairing of “Brace Thee” and “Ghostwriter”, but for every song on which they do this, there are just as many on which Dupuis’ vocals feel too prominent and have a cloying quality to them. Notable examples of the latter song type include “Emergency & Me”, “Kim Cattrall”, “Cry Cry Cry”, and “Who’s Afraid of the Bath”. “Kitty” and “Ballad of Y & S” both also feel like they go on for slightly too long.

Overall, although there is quite a bit of filler on Rabbit Rabbit, the album does contain some enjoyable songs, with Dupuis and Molholt demonstrating their obvious talents for solid guitar riffs at several points. It could perhaps have benefited from a rougher production job than the overly clean one given by Speedy Ortiz and Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin. The album’s lesser songs show potential that could have been improved by a rougher edge to the guitars such as that frequently espoused by the band’s contemporaries, Cloud Nothings, and a more lo-fi recording style in keeping with their origins. Rabbit Rabbit may be imperfect, but it still shows Speedy Ortiz advancing the quality of their craft from Twerp Verse.

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