Monday, October 28, 2013

Gut Feeling: Superchunk - I Hate Music

Superchunk – I Hate Music
Merge, 2013
My brain was way too wired for Majesty Shredding when I Hate Music was released in August. Maybe it had something to do with the band only taking three years to release this album opposed to nine with the last one. Majesty Shredding also caught me at this perfect little moment where I was falling deeply in love with Superchunk and making up for all the time I kept them on the back burner. For the longest time they were a band I knew I would love, absorbed in tiny doses, but ultimately tried to keep up with modern music. And then I quit trying to keep up with modern music, worked at a used CD store three twelve-hour shifts a week and played Indoor Living roughly 60 times in store during my six-month tenure. When Majesty Shredding hit I felt something I’ve felt maybe ten times in my life. The feeling of absolute FUCK YES. All caps. I had that same feeling when I had the good fortune of seeing Guided by Voices play live. It’s a feeling of realizing, via the will of the gods, you haven’t missed the boat and yes, you can still bask in the glory of the good old days of indie rock royalty. Majesty Shredding was as good as any Superchunk album I’d played to death and even after getting neck deep into their complete discography and history over the interim three years between albums, that shit holds its own against any of the acknowledge high points (assuming Superchunk have such defined high watermarks considering one of my favorite things about the band is their absolute steadiness). So I Hate Music was a let down at first because I didn’t immediately love it as much an album I listened to once a day in the last three months of 2010. That is a dumb way to judge music, so I set it aside and let it chill.

Two months later and I’m fucking hooked. I started running again, and the first album I loaded onto my ipod was I Hate Music. I hadn’t listened to it since August, but it’s tough to find ultra spectacular workout jams. Superchunk makes me want to run through a goddamn brick wall. First time back on the treadmill and I am in love with I Hate Music. Not just because it kicks ass, but because it’s a more cohesive effort than Majesty Shredding. It’s insane for my brain to even process that, but a quicker turnaround between records often leads to stuff that’s got more spark than stuff you’ve been plucking away at for almost a decade. There’s new life on I Hate Music. It feels forbidden. Like Superchunk was supposed to be kaput with Here’s to Shutting Up and yet here they are, making every young indie rock band look like they’re trying way too hard. It must be liberating when there is nothing on the line. Everyone in this band could easily just settle down into their family lives (Mac and Laura especially, considering the fortune Arcade Fire must be netting them) and yet, here they are. Delivering everything from easy little sing-a-long pop gems like “Me & You & Jackie Mitoo” and suckerpunch heartwrenchers like “Low F.” You don’t even realize how good some of the songs are until you catch yourself singing them in the car (the chorus on “Trees of Barcelona,” the back half of “Your Theme”). I don’t know when the band has ever sounded this versatile either (see: songs spanning from the 1:15 length punk nugget “Staying Home” to the 6:10 length closer, the mollassesy slow-burn jam “What Can We Do”). It’s not really that big a deal, but I never expect Superchunk to be versatile. They could just do an album that was 12 “Breaking Downs” and I’d be more than content and I guess it all comes down to the thing about new Superchunk albums being like a gift for a holiday you didn’t know about. A welcome surprise of outstanding quality that leaves you generally thankful to be part of a world where great people make great things and are gracious enough to share them with you.

"Me & You & Jackie Mittoo" 

"Low F"

"Trees of Barcelona"

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