Heres to Shutting Up, Superchunks last studio album before Majesty Shredding, began with Late Century Dream, a four-and-a-half-minute tune not quite a ballad, not quite a rocker, and not quite the beloved Superchunk of the 90s. Thus progressed most of that subdued album, which heralded nine years of studio silence for the indie neo-punks. Its not as though Mac McCaughan and company havent been musically busy elsewhere, but Superchunk nearly hit a point where word of a long-awaited, canonical, studio-primped release could sound like just cause for disappointment. Whatever, man.
Once Chunkily semi-sensical poppers like My Gap Feels Weird and Rope Light fill your headphones, any fears of Superchunks fading relevancy will evaporate along with the water so heavily referenced on the album. For a 21-year-old band that also happened to give birth to that cool leather-jacketed biker uncle of all indie record labels, Merge, Superchunk has dropped a record that sounds remarkably youthful. McCaughan isnt expounding upon cosmic themes here. His voice still cuts through oh yeahs, feeling the sun on his face and lines like any way you move, you rattle like loose change in your own shoes on the charmingly simple Rosemarie. Thats all that Superchunk really needs.
In the face of multiple layers of melodious guitar work, strident vocals, and breezily tight production, its so hard to imagine McCaughan and co-founding bandmate Laura Balance are now in their forties. But maybe thats what it takes for a band like theirs. Superchunk helped spearhead what eventually crystallized into the movement now called 90s indie rock and is one of the few major bands to (a) make it through the aughts and to (b) do so without sacrificing the respect they deserve. Through either luck, or simply sheer Superchunk talent, theyve continued their success into another decade, which isnt just awesome for them. Majesty Shredding might work like this years Farm by Dinosaur Jr., metaphorically and literally sending good vibes to all of Superchunks early 90s peers now back on the scene and flirting with notions of new LPs (Pavement, Pixies, Guided by Voices, etc).
According to its press release, Majesty Shredding came about out of the bands desire for songs that would capture their live shows (they have been touring for much of the studio hiatus). Their back-to-early-day-basics approach, with McCaughan writing the songs and the rest of the band fleshing them out, is vintage Superchunk, and it shows. The songs on Majesty Shredding come from a band reenergized and ready to play new material, from Digging for Something (a power-poppy opening anthem devoted to asking why?) to Everything at Once (an aptly titled closer whose sounds build on the rest of the album before it).
On Crossed Wires, McCaughan begs his audience not to touch him, because he might electrocute them. Superchunk will touch you not because of their crossed wires, but because theyre always turned on. The last song on the album is titled Everything at Once, as if we needed anymore proof. These punks are here to stay.