Editors’ Notes Sadie Dupuis was seeking to combine the pop element from solo project Sad13 with the driving guitar rock of her band Speedy Ortiz into one coherent vision. "I think on the first Sad13 record, because I was trying to do something different from Speedy, I was a little afraid to really use the guitars, which is clearly my primary instrument," the multi-instrumentalist tells Apple Music. "And on this record, I just wanted to do really big-sounding pop. And if you go back in a lot of the ’80s pop I'm referring to, I feel like arena-rock guitar solos are just what happened there." Sonically, Haunted Painting features 11 tracks that could fall anywhere on the vast indie-pop spectrum, whether it's the maximal hooks featured on "Ghost (Of a Good Time)" and "Hysterical" or darker synth-based tracks such as "Good Grief" and "The Crow." But underneath the album's glossy veneer is Dupuis facing down death, eco-fascism, and her own OCD diagnosis—looking to the late David Berman as an example of how to blend black humor with bleak subjects. "The brightest-sounding fun country songs would have these really bleak one-liners, and then songs that sounded totally maudlin would be hysterically funny at times," she says. "So I'm always kind of trying to seek that balance, too." Below, Dupuis discusses Haunted Painting track by track.

Into the Catacombs
“I really like opening tracks that set a mood that may be using the consistent tone of the record. I always think about the Unwound album Leaves Turn Inside You, which is like a several-minute drone. The song has been floating around since 2014, and I knew whenever I used it, it had to be an intro song. So I started working on it for the last Sad13 record and it just didn't really fit, so I'm glad it finally made it onto an album.”

WTD?
“I sent the record to Jason DeMarco, who does just a lot of everything at Adult Swim, but certainly is like the music person. And he's sort of the reason that I've been able to play at their festival and do a number of these singles. And so it was kind of a scramble to figure out how can we get one on there in time for it to be like before the record comes out. And I'm really, I'm always psyched to get to do stuff with them.”

Hysterical
“I wrote the song sort of in response to a bunch of comedians. I don't care for all of them making stupid comments to the press simultaneously about how woke culture has destroyed comedy or how not being racist is somehow destroying comedy. I think it's so great that I got to do this music video with the comedians that I really love who absolutely prove that it's such an outdated and like simplistic way to feel that not being cruel is not funny.“

Ghost (Of a Good Time)
“I was thinking of a lot of like indie bands that go poppy for this one: of Montreal, certainly Thao & The Get Down Stay Down record was a big influence, the one that Merrill Garbus produced [2016’s A Man Alive]. I think, other than the sort of weird time signature breakdown, it's a pretty straightforward song. So I had a lot of fun bringing in different layers and removing them and just sort of subtly changing things as it goes along.”

Oops…!
“It's like a perfect drum sound that I feel like once you hear it on the first one, you deserve a second drum listen. I've been wanting to work with Sarah Tudzin [of illuminati hotties] on a couple of songs.”

Good Grief
“This is another song that I've been working on for a number of years and originally kind of wrote it almost like a country fingerpicking acoustic guitar song. And then when I revisited it for this record, I found this great synth sound for it. So it was like trying to find the balance between weird futuristic very off-sounding synth and then this sort of more traditional country ballad fingerpicking guitar stuff.”

Ruby Wand
“I feel like I just got in there and said what I needed to say. But what's really fun about it to me is all these little synth parts. I've been trying to figure out how the heck I'm going to do any of these for livestreams, if I had to do a radio session. And I was like, all right, there's like 15 different synth parts that I did at home. And then probably 20 more I did at the studio. It was this kind of wanting to get a guitar and bass sound that would push against that very rigid synth.”

With Baby
“Someone once asked me, ‘Are we dating? I need to tell my manager and publicist.’ And I thought it was so funny, and I just never forgot that line. Kind of made a song around it as a joke and then came back to it a couple of years later. And obviously I got rid of those lyrics and there's sort of nothing about that. And it became more about a public image and the internet. But this is another one that I kind of imagined it being a little bit country and then it wound up really, really '80s.”

The Crow
“It's for sure the first time I've read about the death of someone I didn't know personally, but there's so many sad and difficult things happening constantly and increasingly, and what a lot of us retreat to is art. So the loss of people who create that art can have a really baffling effect when you're sort of relying on them to help you process what's difficult. And that was sort of how I felt at the death of David Berman. His writing was so acute and incisive, but also funny, warm, and we really need voices like that. And I'm thankful we got so much work from him.”

Take Care
“This is another one that I started a few years ago and I thought that I had just like sailed with it. And there were a couple songs like this where I had the session on my computer and I was like, let me just open it up and see what it's like. And it was basically all there. I wrote the woodwinds and the strings, and I don't have a great sense of how to write for those instruments. I took music theory in college for like a second, enough to write for a string quartet for like a final project. And that's the only experience I have. So it was a lot of like looking up how to write for an orchestra, like what ranges can they play? And I was really anxious about it, but it came out amazing.”

Market Hotel
“My rule for myself on this album was to not hit the four-minute point on any song, which is a challenge because all these songs have so many sections. So it would be like, even if the song was four minutes and two seconds long, I'd be like, okay, we got to make a couple of full measures half measures so I can get under my arbitrary limit. I really believe in like getting in and getting out, but doing as much as possible while you're there. I was really thinking about like The Cars, Big Star, a lot of kind of power pop.”

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3:33
 
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2:58
 
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1:47
 

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