Speedy Ortiz’s Real Hair EP, which follows their 2013 LP Major Arcana, is more than a between-albums postcard. The Massachusetts indie traditionalists are still working with ’90s alt-rock fundamentals and bandleader Sadie Dupuis is still writing strange but vivid lyrics on classic themes like being a hopeless loner/weirdo: “My heart looks in on itself/ And any friend I make’s a station at best.” But on Real Hair you can hear their crunchy, loosely wound sound developing into something more melodic and more their own. Each song, though still made of pretty raw materials, is carefully constructed, with intricate melodies and unusual turns, often striking a delicate balance between warm, buzzing chords and bright, exploratory picking. The added refinement and distinct variation from song to song makes it seem longer and more substantial than its four tracks.
Opener “American Horror” is a catchy song cradling a tempestuous and very noisy breakdown. “Oxygal” has the deconstructed feel of a Helium song but sways with the lulling rhythm of one of Weezer’s waltzes. On “Everything’s Bigger” meandering Pavement riffs and twisty Lungfish ones collide for a intriguing little storm. Dupuis, meanwhile, definitely belongs to the same school of visionary rock poets like Lungfish’s Dan Higgs, Mary Timony or even Stephen Malkmus. On this EP she and her band delve more deeply into that weird, mystical side of loud American indie rock and find plenty of fresh sounding material there. Of course, it wouldn’t work out so well if they didn’t have a solid vision of their own.