Superchunk Majesty Shredding Review

Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Jubilant, sunny feelings coupled with a sense of jaded, measured hindsight.

Mischa Pearlman 2010

Superchunk's music never really translated over here in the UK. Over in the States, however, back in the early and mid-90s, they helped define a sound that countless bands, from Sleater-Kinney to The Get Up Kids, …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead to Modest Mouse, The Dismemberment Plan to Ted Leo, have continued to shape and perpetuate to this day.

Infusing – as per usual – squalling, buzzsaw guitars and Mac McCaughan’s high-pitched, emotionally-charged vocals with simple yet cerebral lyrics that turn commonplace existence into something sad yet (as the title suggests) splendid, Majesty Shredding – their ninth album – brings their sonic template fully into the 21st century. Songs like opener Digging for Something, the upbeat chug of Slow Drip and the beautifully jittery Learned to Surf remain true to the time and place they come from, yet burst with the fresh enthusiasm of a band just out of college, an infinite American summer spread out in front of them.

Although that jubilant, sunny feeling permeates all of these 11 songs, it’s coupled with a sense of jaded, measured hindsight – that, despite the open, blue North Carolina sky above them and the youthful energy it inspires, you can’t recapture the past. "Collecting the notes you slipped under the door," sings McCaughan on the sublime, hyper Crossed Wires, "I go blank when I try to remember what we were good for." The soaring, searching crescendo of Everything at Once is full of careless, reckless abandon and a burning desire to absorb everything that life, past, present and future, has to offer all at once ("Here’s a song about nothing and everything at once / All the minutes and months, the feedback and the drums").

And that’s exactly it. This album, in a way, is the sum of the band’s collected experiences so far – the joy and jubilation of youth, the excitement of young love remembered and re-felt years down the line. To coin a phrase from Built to Spill, Majesty Shredding is Superchunk watching the movies of their dreams and lives. Their music may not have caught on so well over here, but there’s still time. In fact, that’s all there is, and all there ever will be.

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