To contrast Sadie Dupuis’ work as SAD13 with her work with Speedy Ortiz feels unfair, yet inevitable as they are essentially two different distillations of her own personality. The former is more Dupuis as Dupuis, for sure ,but even the band work was sprung out of her own ideas and therefore could be reasonably approached similarly.
This is a really easy project to listen to. That’s derivative, sure, but it’s also worth knowing going in. sometimes the easiest adjectives are the best to reach for when you’re looking to colour the edges. So, for some more detail in that colour, let’s keep it light. It’s called Haunted Painting, so even that’s apt. That light colour manifests itself in the record’s title and its cover, even, so it follows logically that Dupuis’ music would follow the trend.
There’s a lot of good and fun electronic guitar here. It’s particularly clear in the first few tracks on the albums- the one that follows ‘WTD?’, which was the first of four singles and kicks off a four song run that, interestingly, contains each of those singles.
It’s interesting that, even without knowing that these four songs are the album’s singles, that these are the songs that stand out. They’re the brightest, they’re the most intricate, they feel inexplicably linked and then you see they’re the singles and you work out why. That’s not to say that there’s nothing else in the rest of the record, but these are a cut above.
The thing about ‘Haunted Painting’ that gets me more than anything else is the conviction with which she delivers her lines, but also the flatness in which the same lines fall. You know she believes in what she’s saying and the courage of her own convictions, but you rarely find yourself swept up in it. That’s never clearer than on ‘Hysterical’, which feels like itriffs on the idea of the male gaze leading to hysterical women. Going back to that, it’s the fact that I can only reasonably say it ‘feels like’, even after four or five listens, that speaks to the fact you aren’t as engaged as you’d hope to be.
I think that’s the other knock, right? That while you get the ‘painting’ aspect, you don’t really get the ‘haunted’. You see good bits, you see how it could be better than just good, but it’s never anything more than that and sometimes it’s less. It also doesn’t hang around, which I guess it also shares with conventional physical art, but it isn’t like each song is a piece of a gallery nor is each song, like, a brushstroke that makes up a part of a greater single art piece. You follow?
Even after some considerable time with this, it’s hard to truly get its measure. It’s not bad, but it’s not ever really good, either. But it also doesn’t feel mediocre. Am I going to remember it in a year’s time? Probably not. Did I enjoy it regardless? Yes, yes I did. Will any of the songs really go on to define my memories of this week, or this month, or the project itself? Also probably not, but that doesn’t really work against its inherent quality, right? That’s why it feels like a firm… 7