Speedy Ortiz returns after five long years with ‘Scabs,’ the band’s first new song since 2018—and its first to feature longtime touring members Audrey Zee Whitesides (bass) and Joey Doubek (drums), who are now full time contributors alongside Dupuis and Andy Molholt (guitar)
Engineered and mixed by Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin, who co-produced with Speedy Ortiz, ‘Scabs’ was recorded in the nearly-alien desert landscapes of Joshua Tree’s Rancho de la Luna and El Paso’s Sonic Ranch. Wryly excoriating people whose activism ends at empty words instead of material work, the song’s riffs feel lived-in and playful, pushing between knotty time changes, oddball percussion, and cheeky vocal hooks. ‘Scabs’ reaffirms Speedy Ortiz’s desire to push themselves politically and musically, vital and surprising as ever.
“Living in progressive cities and working in the arts, you meet peers doing tremendous organizing work. And then there are neighbors who signal their ‘good’ politics through yard signs alone,” says Dupuis. “I wrote ‘Scabs’ standing in line at the post office, overhearing customers berate a USPS employee. This was during a time of postal unions-opposed budget cuts and other major issues for mail handlers, which were widely reported on. People advertising their support for essential workers acted conversely when faced with personal inconvenience. The song became more widely about self-designated ethicists who don’t quibble about crossing a picket line for individual benefit.”