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The Death of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker...Forever are fitting preludes to Speedy Ortiz's greatness

"The Death of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker...Forever"

Release date: 12 November 2021
Speedy ortiz death of art
11 November 2021, 09:56 Written by Tom Williams
In 2018, Speedy Ortiz opened for Liz Phair on tour. The event felt like a symbolic passing of the torch moment from one rock pioneer to another; as Phair’s landmark debut Exile In Guyville turned 25 years old.

Two years before Phair released Guyville under the Matador label, she self-released a set of now-legendary bootlegs known as the Girly-Sound tapes. Recorded DIY-style on a 4-track tape recorder in her parent’s house, the bootleg would contain early workings of what would come to be the most definitive songs of her career (“Divorce Song”, “F*ck and Run”). Much like Phair’s bootlegs, Speedy Ortiz’s first demos, The Death of Speedy Ortiz and the Cop Kicker EP are preludes to greatness; the sound of an artist putting two decades of angst, injustice and heartache to music for the first time.

The first and last album made when Speedy Ortiz was still Sadie Dupois’s solo project, The Death of Speedy Ortiz - now remastered for it’s 10th anniversary - is the sound of an emerging star searching for their own sound. Ortiz, who came into their own on 2013’s Major Arcana, here lean heavily into their '90s Phair and Riot grrrl influences; largely lacking a distinctive sound of their own. Yet, there’s still flashes of the greatness that would go on to make Speedy Ortiz one of the more consistently impressive bands of the 2010s. “Cutco” is an anthemic rocker with a deadpan delivery of shocking lyrics (“All my friends wanna cut me into bits….When they're done they can flush me with the sh*t”) that recalls Phair’s most acclaimed song to date ‘F*ck and Run’.

“Phish Phood”, meanwhile, is a menacing, off kilter number that sets a scene not dissimilar to that of the foreboding opening of a horror movie; painting a tale of a solitary drive in the dark, a late night break-in and the flooding of a home. In the final verse, however, our protagonist is unmasked, revealing them to be devastatingly human (“You’re no ghost, you’re just some kid / So why are all your songs so mean?”). The persona and the personal are suddenly indistinguishable from each other.

Like the songs of Guyville, there’s an effortless coolness to these songs; with Dupuis chewing up and spitting out toxic men without ever coming down to their level: “thanks for never being there”, “thanks for bruising my arm” she sings with a knowing wink on the ironically titled “Thank You”. “Doomsday”, meanwhile, is a prescient number, capturing the malaise of Gen-Z and young-millennials, as she listlessly states off possible reasons for her melancholy (“Maybe it’s sex / Maybe it’s sexlessness / Maybe it’s doom / Maybe it’s death / Maybe its your death”).

This hour long collection of old material ends with the previously unreleased “Son of”. Over timeless post-punk arrangements, Dupuis reveals the parts of her inner psyche most would keep buried deep (“I wish I was dead / When you called me up and said / You let snakes in your bed”). “This depression’s not my fault” she reveals in one of the song’s more aching moments, before growling, “I wish I was dead / With a bullet through my head”. Like the preceding 21 tracks, it showcases an artist capable of evoking a rich array of heady emotions in just a few words. If imperfect, The Death of Speedy Ortiz & Cop Kicker...Forever showcases an artist of the precipice of excellence; excellence they would fully and firmly reach on later works.

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