Superchunk SuperchunkMajesty Shredding
When your father comes to you and says, “today I feel like a young boy,” tell him that that’s impossible. If he really felt that way, he would have done like Mac McCaughan and company, and he’d be prancing around onstage with a great album like “Majesty Shredding” under his arm. A band of forty-somethings never sounded so fresh, even though we can’t really say that it’s a surprise at this stage of the game . We already know Superchunk, and besides, they already warned us of their intentions last year with the EP’s “Leaves in the Gutter” and “Crossed Wires”, but I suppose that we didn’t entirely believe them and we thought that the LP they were preparing would only be an excuse for a new tour. At most, another comeback from the dead like half of the groups who aren’t settling for the piece of the pie that they got during the 90’s.
Nevertheless, Superchunk is different for various reasons. One of them is that they had no need to record again. McCaughan and Laura Ballance must be up to their ears in work at the head of Merge, Jon Wurster earns his living as the drummer for The Mountain Goats, and Jim Wilbur hasn’t left the stage yet either, playing regularly with some groups like McCaughan’s parallel project, Portastatic. In short: their return doesn’t seem to have anything to do with a pile of bills, although of course money always comes in handy. So, the reason that they are putting out another album after a nine-year hiatus (because there wasn’t an official separation, nor did they decide to give themselves a break, like a teenage couple: they just stopped recording) seems to be just that they felt like doing it. And that is more than enough reason to get them good results.
“Majesty Shredding” is surely the Chapel Hill group’s best album since “No Pocky For Kitty”, their second album, put out in 1991. Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that Superchunk has gone back to working similarly to the way they did in the early years, when McCaughan appeared with the songs almost written, and the rest of the band members came in to help finish the work. In its day, this also favoured a saying which is now renewed: the first idea is always the best. So it’s no surprise that the result is going back to an energetic music that oscillates between that relaxed punk and power pop. It’s an album that would lift a dead man’s spirits, with hits like “Digging for Something”, the single that introduced the album, “My Gap Feels Weird”, “Crossed Wires” or “Learned to Surf” (the last two included in the EP’s that came out last year). The recipe is easy: accelerated rhythms, a good selection of riffs, and catchy, memorable choruses. Even the halftime that is “Fractures in Plaster” doesn’t fall into the boredom that others would give it (naming names would be ugly), and it keeps up the fresh air that the album gives off. The lyrics aren’t the album’s strong point, but nobody expects great philosophical dissertations on life from Superchunk. Only a little youthful good humour from some forty-somethings who are having the time of their lives.
Things are turning out perfectly for McCaughan. The (good) return of Superchunk coincides with one of the best moments for Merge, with Arcade Fire at the top of the sales lists, thanks to an impeccable album and an extraordinarily long tour. This makes you think that perhaps divine justice does exist, and karma helps people who work really hard at what they do to finally get their just reward. At least with this story, the ending is a happy one, at least for the time being. Gabriel Trindade
Superchunk - Digging for Something