Sadie Dupuis just doesn’t stop. Whether it’s making records and touring the world with her band Speedy Ortiz, writing large amounts of material for said band, or just positively role-modeling for the countless young artists that look up to her — it seems as though she’s made a name for herself a thousand different ways.
It made perfect sense when Dupuis announced she was going to be releasing a pop record under the moniker “Sad13”, because what’s one more thing on her plate, right? Already a prolific songwriter, she’s suggested before that radio pop has influenced more recent Speedy material — so when the time came for the band to give fans a breather, she was already wading knee deep in sugary synths and gargantuan hooks, figuring out how to do a so-often artistically stunted genre her way.
The result is Slugger, an undoubtedly fresh and innovative release that shows a side of Dupuis fans don’t see too often. While Speedy brings her demons to the lyrical (and sonic) forefront, Sad13 gives off a positive, confident vibe.
“Get A Yes”, the record’s first single, is about enthusiastic verbal consent, and deeper cuts like “Devil In U” and “Just A Friend” discuss topics like self-care and healthy romantic relationships. In a way, it feels like the most personal Dupuis material yet, the self-affirming lyrics and overwhelming sense of triumph suggest that she needed the process of writing the songs as badly as her fans needed to hear them.
The most brilliant thing about Slugger, though, is the way it works within the framework of radio-ready pop to create something that feels brand new. Dupuis’s voice does this from a purely aesthetic standpoint, as she manages to bring the vocal twists and turns that make Speedy so compelling into a more accessible setting without a hitch. Beyond the surface, what really makes the record stick is the aforementioned lyrical trickery — Dupuis seems to enjoy the “gotcha” moments she creates by turning pop’s thematic tropes on their head, right down to her sly cartoon smirk on the cover.
Slugger may not be the most sonically groundbreaking pop release of the year. It also may not be the best. However, it’s certainly the one with the most character. Sad13’s songwriting prowess combined with her vibrant badass-ness makes for a true standout effort that’ll continue to shine for some time.