…But You Will Love This
Add one more to the long list of ’90s bands who are releasing new music in the 2010s. The best of these acts are not out to redefine themselves or conform to the conventions of today’s high-tech, multi-layered indie rock. Instead, they are having fun doing whatever they were known for twenty years ago while at the same time proving that all you really need to make timeless music is excellent songs. Chapel Hill, NC’s kings of low-fi, Superchunk, release one of the best examples of this rule with their latest collection, I Hate Music.
In 1991, singer/guitarist Mac McCaughan & co. released No Pocky for Kitty, setting a new standard for raw, poppy, garage rock. Over the years, Superchunk became a little stale, and McCaughan’s solo project, Portastatic, received the spoils of his leftover songwriting talents. In 2001, Superchunk released the respectable but safe Majesty Shredding, their first LP in nine years. With I Hate Music, there is an overarching feeling of carelessness that makes the songs feel loose and natural, as if McCaughan has nothing to prove and nothing to lose by showing you how little he has to prove, ironically proving everything.
I Hate Music begins with “Overflows,” which starts a little mellow for this band, which has always been known for overfuzzed guitars and low vocals; McCaughan is out front here, but his Pee-Wee Herman-like vocals (though not in an annoying way) have stood the test of time, and they deserve the spotlight. This tune features one of the catchiest hooks you’ll hear all year, and it leads well into “Me & You & Jackie Mittoo,” a two-minute post-punk-pop gem. Not to be outdone, “Staying Home” is pure punk goodness.
Some of the more subdued moments, such as most of “Out of the Sun” and the beginning of “Void,” don’t hit on all cylinders, and remind fans that if they’re looking for a tamer McCaughan, they’d be better off with his Portastatic work. I Hate Music ends with the six-minute long “What Can We Do,” which echoes Superchunk’s whole lifespan: simple, catchy, but just when they seem tired, they redeem themselves with energetic jubilance.