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Superchunk Remains Superpowered

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 30, 2010 6:40PM

Photo by Jason Arthurs
In the band’s earlier days Superchunk wrote unbelievably catchy melodies and then sped them up so quickly that singer and guitarist Mac McCaughan often seemed in danger of actually overshooting the versus and choruses with his vocals. Their frenetic energy was the sort of thing that caused people of a certain age (read: me) to now say, “Now THERE was a band that played as if their lives depended on it, they could show the kids a thing or two.” Of course as the years went on, the band’s music slowed, age set in, and while their songwriting skills were still formidable we feared Superchunk was headed for the alt-rock oldies circuit, a theory not helped by the band’s near decade of minimal activity.

Count on Superchunk to come back and remind both us AND the kids that they still know what it takes to rock out with this year’s Majesty Shredding, their first full album since 2001. We had our doubts about the band recording again after such a long hiatus, but after seeing the band play this summer and GodDAMN if McCaughan, bassist Laura Balance, guitarist Jim Wilbur and drummer Jon Wurster didn’t put on one of the most inspirational, energetic and downright life-affirming shows of the year. Even more astounding was the fact that the new material fit seamlessly next to the band’s classics in the set.

And so it is on Majesty Shredding that we rediscover a band as they ascend another peak in their astounding career. Back is the hard charging scrappy punk and power-pop tunes, and gone are the majority rules of their latter career mid-tempo material. The band is light-years away from the sloppy glory of “Slack Motherfucker” but they have finally re-engineered the joy of that tune with the hard earned structure and chops they’ve picked up throughout their years in the Econoliner rimmed trenches. Shoot straight to “Learned To Surf” if you want a thumbnail view of what the whole album has to offer, music that makes you want to run around in circles while hugging friends and pogoing up and down with your low-slung air guitar.

Some bands age poorly and some age well, but they should all be so lucky as to age like Superchunk.

Superchunk plays Thursday, December 2, at Metro, 3730 N Clark, 9 p.m. $20 / $21 at the door, 18+