On their debut full-length, Western Massachusetts’ Speedy Ortiz manages a bit of magic by conjuring the spirits of classic American indie rock, while twisting those ghosts into new shapes. It’s easy to hear the influences of Helium, Jawbox, and Chavez on this album, as well as nods to their contemporaries including Grass is Green, Pile, and Roomrunner. Sweet vocal harmonies run up against gnarly distortion, aided by basic, chunky bass parts and heavy, fill-laden drums. The album was recorded in a few days in November at Justin Pizzoferrato’s (Dinosaur Jr., Chelsea Light Moving) studio, Sonelab, a huge space in an old factory in Easthampton, Mass. The sessions went from very early in the day until very late at night, with the band taking its time to experiment. Pizzoferrato’s collection of old distortion pedals were utilized on both the record’s guitars and vocals. The theme of the occult and the supernatural runs deep through Major Arcana, inspired by singer-guitarist Sadie Dupuis’ reading on black magic. Dupuis’ sometimes knotty and abstract lyrics bring to mind fellow wordsmith Stephen Malkmus, while referencing horror film tropes, chemistry, and neuroscience. Major Arcana’s literal translation is “major mysteries,” a phrase from tarot cards. “I don’t write in a narrative way and am more concerned with use of language than meaning,” Dupuis says, “so I like the open-endedness of the title and the way it invites interpretation.” After too much time freelance writing and watching re-runs in a windowless Brooklyn basement, guitarist and songwriter Sadie Dupuis left New York City for the wilds of Northampton, MA in order to pursue a master’s degree in poetry. In doing so, she began Speedy Ortiz, a self-recorded lo-fi project named after a minor character from the Love and Rockets comic series. Speedy Ortiz soon became something else entirely as bassist Darl Ferm, guitarist Matt Robidoux, and drummer Mike Falcone teamed up to form a full band, balancing abrasive noise with infectious earworms. The newly minted Speedy Ortiz quickly found an audience in the Boston DIY scene, playing frequently with their friends Pile, Grass is Green, Fat History Month, Sneeze, Krill, and Arvid Noe. Almost immediately, the band recorded a two-song single, “Taylor Swift” and “Swim Fan,” with Paul Q. Kolderie (Pixies, Hole) and Justin Pizzoferrato (Chelsea Light Moving, Dinosaur Jr.), and self-released it in March of 2012. Shortly thereafter they spent a few weekends at the dingy yet atmospheric Sex Dungeon Studios in Philadelphia recording the Sports EP, a five-track, loosely conceptual 10” released that June on Exploding in Sound Records. The creation of Major Arcana, their full-length debut, marks the evolution of Speedy Ortiz into a wholly collaborative effort. Darl leans toward basic, chunky parts, while Mike, a talented songwriter in his own right, helped arrange while also providing aggressive, boisterous drums. And Matt is a classically trained guitarist, but his experience in noise and experimental music comes through in his anti-melodic guitar solos, which counterbalance Sadie’s angular, scalar guitar riffs and poppy vocals. The end result is a band able to distill their influences and creative impulses into something at once dissonant and melodic, noisy yet undeniably pop.