Written By: Vincent Nijenhuis
I should start off by stating that I never really like Speedy Ortiz. They always seemed like an indie-fied Breeders without any actual grit and just sank into a world of nonspecific modern alt rock. Granted, they have always been technically proficient, and the best part of any Speedy Ortiz’s album is the Sadie Dupuis’s ability to juxtapose her sing song vocals with a bitter irony, and cynicism and jagged, if predictable, guitar melodies. Now why is this relevant? ‘Cause Slugger is Sadie Dupuis first album released under the moniker Sad13, and it has nothing that made Speedy Ortiz a somewhat enjoyable band to listen to.
Slugger is painfully uninteresting. Yes, it goes for a far more accessible sound than anything off any Speedy Ortiz record, but Speedy Ortiz was never a hard listen in the first place. Dupuis is clearly trying to write an album that feels like someone opened their diary, and just put a lofi electronic melody to it a la Julie Ruin and Lisa Prank, but her production on the album is too clean, and polished for it to seem honest expression. Instead, it sounds like a lie. It sounds like an album that was made with an overall aesthetic in mind instead of original, unique song writing. The album is overproduced to the point that the electronic beats doesn’t even give Dupuis’s voice to actually be heard, and her lyrics to breathe. On “Get a Yes,” Dupuis attempts to give us the consent anthem we’ve all been dying to hear, but her vocal delivery is subdued, and is drowned out by the beat of the song which is a shame considering how important, and clever the lyrics are on this track. That would be somewhat forgivable if the beat was interesting, but it’s a simple beat drones on and quickly become boring, like most of the synthesizer on the album. Every song have a great message, but they are simply uninteresting with the exception of “Line Up.”
“Line Up” has a powerhouse guitar rift that is perfectly married with a synth beat that infuses the track with verve and keeps the track interesting from start to finish. “Line Up” is the anthem about sexism in the music industry we all wanted with the last line of the chorus being “they let in every boy but I’m the only girl in sight” speaking to sexism in the music industry. Too bad it’s the only song on the album that works.
Dupois is clearly going for something completely different than Speedy Ortiz, which is admirable in its own respect, but this album is just disappointing. It’s bland. It fails on every level it’s trying to succeed at. It aims for honesty, and gives us contrivance. It aims for fun, upbeat synth pop, it gives us boring synth beats that seem to drone on. It aims to give us feminist anthems, it gives us muddied vocals we can barely hear. There’s a lot on this album to admire, but that doesn’t mean it actually works. I admire the idea of Sadie Dupuis creating a sound completely different than what Speedy Ortiz. I admire the idea of an album being filled with a bunch of feminist themes to empower women. I admire the idea of creating an album filled synth pop to quote unquote ‘sneak’ a feminist message in pop music. I admire the idea of the Slugger, just not the album itself.
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