To be honest, I see so much pretentious sh** these days, from these “colored vinyl” records to phrases like “Nineties indie” (everybody knows the ’90s were a decade of mainstream rock and rap… I can probably count the amount of relevant ’90s indie bands there are on my two hands) that I almost didn’t look at the article at all. But there it was, on Rolling Stone’s Facebook feed, the Speedy Ortiz lead singer’s new poetry collection Mouthguard, out now just in time to be a holiday stocking stuffer.
Now, this type of thing is very much my area what with my degree in English and minor in music, so I sort of felt obligated with my left brain, more or less, to see what was behind the headline (at this time all I knew was that “Sadie Dupius got back into poetry”). What I didn’t expect to learn was that she’s also got a solo album, from 2016, under the alias Sad13, titled Slugger. It’s a full LP, consisting of 12 songs, a couple interesting titles of which are “<2” and “Krampus (In Love)” .
I got through the whole album, and apropos of how much to my disgust Dupius is apparently a Taylor Swift fan (even at one point going to see her in concert), it’s definitely an expedition in pop, showcasing Dupius’ primary strength, her singing voice . Rolling Stone makes light in the article’s byline of Dupius’ “distinct lyrical voice” and I think what they mean is actually a sort of persona in putting together words something like a poetic trademark. But ironically what jumps out to me as galvanizing in her is actually the physical timbre of her singing voice, which as I think I’ve stated prior reminds me very much of PJ Harvey but carries also this incredibly rich, grainy and multifarious quality, which assuredly makes you think she’s poised for the meanness and authoritativeness requisite for mainstream American pop.
Now, I don’t usually critique pop albums. I think the last commercially successful album I enjoyed was probably The Strokes’ Room on Fire, unless you count Eminem’s album of this year which obviously isn’t really very mainstream in terms of radio. But I did get through Slugger, enjoyed it, mind you not really knowing what EXACTLY it was (pop escapade, soul-diva revival, kiss-off to former bandmates) other than some nice background music with a warm, comforting human voice over it.
But then in terms of the song “Hype” in which the first chorus goes “They still want to lick my a**hole” (referring apparently to hypocritical reporters who try to project their own salacious desires onto the artist in interviews, or something like that), this seems like something she wouldn’t have been able to do in Speedy Ortiz, which was composed entirely of men.
Actually, Dupius more or less makes a living off of detailing the horrific traits of those around her, from the horny bandmates outlined in “Raising the Skate” to the bloodlusting civilian women depicted in “Tiger Tank.” Well, “Raising the Skate” is a very misunderstood song. Pitchfork made it out to look like it referred to women in the workplace (gathering that the “I’m not bossy / I’m the boss” lyrics served to undermine the “Ban Bossy” women’s movement in society), but as the video for it depicts, it refers to being the object of infatuation around a heavy predominance of men in spaces like concert halls and late-night houses. It’s actually more basic, immediate and primal than anything political – it’s Dupius’ everyday life and the problems she faces, which in a way is more beautiful and in a way less, depending on how you want to look at it.
Do I think Slugger is the best thing Dupius has ever done? Yes. Am I filled as a man with unbridled excitement when I hear her refer to unconventional sex acts? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. Are these two things related? Well, I’m still trying to decide. One thing is for sure, anyway: as irreverent as it seems, this is something that she had to say, as a way of atoning for her complete lack of inspiration being derived from the human populace these days in terms of artistic, abstract or moralistic ideas. What’s more, it’s even a relevant conversation point to American life in the mid-21st century. I promise, or I wouldn’t write about it. Probably not, anyway.
 I believe Krampus is some sort of malevolent mythological figure associated with Christmastime and punishing kids who have been bad, sort of like a foil (a concept on which Dupius is clearly fixated) to Santa or something.
 I hate to be an a** but judging by the one poetry swatch provided by Rolling Stone I don’t see the written word as supplanting singing as the artist’s primary talent.