Published Oct 23, 2019On Speed Queen, Little Scream teeters on the edge of being a bit "on-the-nose" with her critiques of Trump, but never goes over the edge. Opener "Dear Leader" feels a bit toothless as a satirical work: "Is there some history that we are doomed to repeat / I've watched the history channel, and human nature is hard to beat" is dry and funny, but not really insightful in 2019.
Outside of this, Laurel Sprengelmeyer is able to effectively blend the personal and political in her lyrics. The title track is a much better statement of the album's politics; its verses are melancholy meditations on poverty: "mom's car is held together with duct-tape." Against that background, it shows bursts of joy in harsh conditions: "homeless kids getting warm in the laundromat / by having a dance party around a baseball cap." Its chorus is beautiful and cinematic, while her vocals are breathier than usual and almost sound like Lana Del Rey.
Speed Queen is less synth-led than previous Little Scream albums. "Switchblade" brings has a fantastic saxophone line: sax soloes in pop music are obnoxious, but this one feels warm and sensual. The album is full of bright, playful bass lines. Little Scream uses disco as a lively genre, rather than referencing a nostalgic past. If a listener misses Little Scream's more familiar psychedelic vibes and layers of harmonic reverb-filled vocals, they should look to "Forces of Spring." Speed Queen is a creative record full of comedy, warmth, and feeling. (Dine Alone)