Majesty ShreddingAlbum | Superchunk By Stewart Mason
Nostalgia can be a good thing.
Superchunk's first album in nine years kicks off with a high squeal of feedback that'll sound positively nostalgic to the generation of indie rockers who came of age with the Chapel Hill crew's early singles back at the cusp of the '90s. That evocation of the band's early sound isn't accidental: although later albums like Come Pick Me Up and Here's To Shutting Up featured songwriting contributions by all four members and expansive arrangements including strings, horns and other instruments, these 11 concise, muscular tracks were wholly written by singer-guitarist Mac McCaughan and recorded quite simply, with minimal outside help, most notably some backing vocals by longtime pal John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats. Crucially, however, Superchunk season these back-to-basics songs with the wisdom of two decades' worth of skill and practice rather than pretending they're still a bunch of North Carolina college kids. Centerpiece track "Fractures In Plaster" has a sense of genuine loss and regret that wouldn't have been possible in the No Pocky For Kitty days; that it's also the one song that recalls the more expansive vibe of Superchunk's later albums is no doubt deliberate. But even three-minute blasts of post-Husker Du noise pop like "My Gap Feels Weird" have a casual melodic strength that reveals just how much Superchunk have learned about making smart, emotionally engaging records since "Slack Motherfucker" hit the nation's dorm-room turntables, and how much they've been missed lately.