Song 223: Speedy Ortiz, “No Below” (2013)

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“No Below” is the hurricane eye of Speedy Ortiz’s excellently hectic debut Major Arcana. I love the rest of the record’s breakneck-speed-indie rock, but this slow burner is my favorite. Just listen to that melody in the chorus: it’s so sad, but so catchy, and it pops up repeatedly as a sung line and a guitar phrase, spinning itself around until it explodes the song at the end.

There’s no denying this band’s love of nineties indie like Pavement and Liz Phair, but I like that Speedy Ortiz uses the sound to make something new. These songs are songs, and they’re damn good ones. Most of Sadie Dupuis’s verses—“No Below” is one of the exceptions—don’t rhyme, and the blank verse format makes them sound unique and, for some reason, particularly personal. Not enough bands pay attention to the lyrics, and Dupuis (who is currently studying at Amherst for an MFA in poetry) is already an expert. I can’t wait to see what this band does next.

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