“Rabbit rabbit” is a superstitious incantation repeated on the first of each month to bring good fortune—a belief practiced by Sadie Dupuis, the guitarist, singer and songwriter of the Philadelphia rock quartet Speedy Ortiz. As a child with OCD, she followed arbitrary rituals, a coping mechanism commonly triggered by early trauma, and “rabbit rabbit” was one that stuck. When Dupuis began to parse difficult memories for the first time in her songwriting, it felt like kismet to name her band’s resultant fourth record after an expression of luck and repetition: Rabbit Rabbit. Instead of re-treading old routines, the record finds Speedy Ortiz interrogating conventions, grappling with cycles of violence and destructive power dynamics with singular wit and riffs. Rabbit Rabbit finds Speedy Ortiz at its most potent: melodically fierce, sonically mountainous, scorching the earth and beginning anew.
In her past few years of work as a writer and interviewer, Dupuis recognized a recurring thread among artists with parallel backstories to her own: music had provided escapism from childhood abuse, but those same turbulent circumstances had normalized the grimmest aspects of the music industry. These were flashbacks she’d shied from, and constant touring enabled that avoidance.
The record’s most scenic lyrics come from “Kitty,” an urban pastoral about the all-night noise on Dupuis’ block. “It felt important to ground the record in our shared location, especially since being at home and the friendship of my bandmates is what helped me reckon with this album’s themes,” says Dupuis. But a sense of fight is still at the forefront of Rabbit Rabbit; another catalyst was Speedy Ortiz’s efforts as community activists. Molholt and Dupuis are organizers with the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers and its Philly local, which has worked to place instruments in state prisons. The band has also collaborated with harm reduction organizations, Girls Rock Camps, and other grassroots groups while on tour. In addition to her production work with electropop project Sad13 (Backxwash, Lizzo), Dupuis is also a poet; her second book Cry Perfume was released in 2022, and its subject matters of grief and harm reduction put her in the frame of mind to write Rabbit Rabbit’s intimately nuanced lyrics—a confessionalism explored on the meta “Ballad of Y & S,” which teasingly ponders the market utility of semi-autobiographical art.
The record’s cover is Dupuis’ mixed-media painting of a fire-engulfed pickup truck, an image inspired by the trucks on fire she drew compulsively as a kid in therapy. Drawing from literary influences that include workplace apocalypses, magical realist family dramas, and artists’ biographies, Rabbit Rabbit is Speedy Ortiz’s most ambitious and expansive record to date. “I turned 33 while writing this album, a palindrome birthday and a lucky number associated with knowledge,” explains Dupuis. “I wanted to mark how I was making better choices as I got older, letting go of heedless anger even when it’s warranted.” The album’s stirring immediacy owes much to the band’s strength as a collective, working together toward a better future—or, as Molholt puts it, “constantly surfing the highs and lows in search of a stable place to land.” With considered muscularity, captivating earworms, and genuine solidarity, Speedy Ortiz is equipped to confront the world’s indignities—with or without a good luck charm.