Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana
Critic Score
Based on 15 reviews
2013 Ratings: #100 / 1035
User Score
Based on 115 ratings
2013 Ratings: #215
July 9, 2013 / Release Date
LP / Format
Carpark / Label
Grunge, Indie Rock / Genres
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speedyortiz.com / Website
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A.V. Club

Major Arcana is a markedly assured debut, one that makes Speedy Ortiz an act to watch. Like its songs, the band’s detonation is inevitable.


One of the reasons ‘Major Arcana’ works so well is because it’s addictive and fun, which could explain how these characters got into such a mess in the first place.


They’ve got reverence for their forebears, sure, but unlike a lot of recent bands exhuming the ghosts of indie rock past, Speedy Ortiz also have faith in the peculiar personality traits that set them apart from their heroes.

Drowned in Sound

Speedy Ortiz’s ingenuity relates not to innovation but something altogether more sacred to this genre, namely the expression of knotty emotions in alluring, specific-seeming terms.

Consequence of Sound

Think of this as the espresso method: a strong, punchy musical concentrate.


The daring, experimental mystique and whip-smart pop melodies ultimately make Major Arcana grow infectious with repeated listens.

No Ripcord

You sense that Speedy Ortiz rather wish they’d been around 20 years ago to occupy a niche amongst the multitudinal luminaries of indie-rock’s golden age, and on the basis of this debut record, they’d certainly have earned it.


Major Arcana is certainly not a perfect debut and does have some flaws, but it succeeds in establishing Speedy Ortiz as a band with promise and scope to build on.

Very faithful to the sounds of 90’s indie rock acts such as Pavement, but compared to their sound feeling somewhat light and carefree, this album by comparison feels angrier and edgier, which isn’t a bad thing, as it has a uniquely aggressive charm to it. There’s a pretty thick sheet of grime plastered across this album, and it’s infectious as hell with it.

Standout: Tiger Tank
Favs: Fun, Gary, Plough, MKVI, Pioneer Spine
Least fav: Casper (1995)
+ Very catchy
+ Enjoyable typic 90's grunge influence with distilated other influences (Nirvana, Pavement, a little Hole ...) ...

- But I think it really lacks some aggressive moments to be totally successful.
Favorite tracks: Casper (1995), So Below, Plough, MKVI, Gary
There is nothing inherently bad about this album, it just sounds like something I've heard before; mainly because I mostly have. This falls pretty squarely in the camp of female-led indie rock group to the point that it rarely strays from that path, which is not entirely shocking as their most recent album gave me a similar vibe. I don't want to say that this isn't good, because that's far from the truth. This is very listenable and fun, it just isn't entirely dynamic.

Favorite track: MKVI
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Track List

  1. Pioneer Spine
  2. Tiger Tank
  3. Hitch
  4. Casper (1995)
  5. No Below
  6. Gary
  7. Fun
  8. Cash Cab
  9. Plough
  10. Mkvi
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Added on: July 1, 2013