In her day job as singer in and leader of US indie-rockers Speedy Ortiz, Sadie Dupuis (AKA Sad13) is an empowering role model for young women. ‘Slugger’, her debut solo album, might see her ditch the bandmates and swap spiky guitar riffs for sparkling synths, but her message remains resolutely unchanged. “I wanted to make songs that were the opposite of ‘Genie In A Bottle’ or ‘The Boy Is Mine’,” she’s said of the motives behind the record, songs that “put affirmative consent at the heart of the matter” and “de-escalate the toxic jealousy and ownership that are often centred in romantic pop songs”.
To some, going into a record with those very serious aims might sound like taking the fun out of pop music. That’s not the case. ‘<2’ is full of videogame zaps and sci-fi synths, but also tackles the notions of identity and its malleability. In ‘Get A Yes’, Dupuis talks consent (“I say yes to the dress when I put it on / I say yes if I want you to take it off”) with sugary sweet melodies and distant echoes of Haim.
On ‘Hype’, Dupuis encourages the supportive side of female friendship. “I just wanna hype my best girls”, she sings on the song, which was originally intended for her mainstay band. It’s a giddy rush that Taylor Swift would probably adopt as her own personal theme tune if she heard it. ‘Coming Into Powers’, meanwhile, takes on the gender pay gap (“We work as hard as those making hella dough / Cos their body’s status quo”) and women’s right to choose what they do with both their bodies and their lives (“My girls dancing on a pole got some moves I’d like to know”; “I want a life where I can be who I like”). Shinier and poppier than anything Speedy Ortiz have done, ‘Slugger’ is Dupuis’ attempt at putting politics into pop. The results are a thrilling and fizzing triumph.