When you’re putting out records by the likes of Arcade Fire, Spoon and Destroyer, one would think you could easily get influenced by the great songwriting, unless of course, you’re Mac McCaughan, founder of Merge Records. But, let’s not forget that Mac’s been jamming with his band Superchunk for close to two decades, and their newest album, Majesty Shredding, shows that no matter how often they pop up, they’re always going to be awesome. Period.
Perhaps this whole record owes to perfect timing, but then again, as soon as you hear the squall of feedback that opens “Digging for Something,” you are met with a barrage of powerful gunshot drums and pure pop sensibility. Mac’s voice sounds as youthful as ever, and who’s going to argue when he’s tossing up sing-a-long choruses so tasty? Of course, the band isn’t solely intent upon giving you quick guitars that cut straight to that pop spot in your heart, they’ve got other offerings.
“Rosemarie” takes a softer approach, almost one that lives in the vein of The Replacements, which is completely acceptable, if not utterly awesome. The balance between Mac and Laura sounds as tight as ever, and they’re not tossing in frills just for the sake of doing so; there’s a purpose in every single musical note on the plate. You’ll find “Crossed Wires” coming at you in the similar territory, using the most basic formula with guitar interplay to keep it more than interesting. Hopefully everyone will find themselves enjoying the clarity of the vocals, enjoying the fact that you can turn this album way up, and scream along to the fact that we’ve all got “crossed wires.”
Its funny, as you probably won’t look at Majesty Shredding and think to yourself that this band is breaking new ground, kicking all those tired genres to the curb, but at the same time, they’re not just resting on their laurels, sitting back waiting for you to love them. “Learned to Surf” opens with some great guitar work thats both angular and heavy, things we’ve seen other people do, but not this earnestly. Superchunk will also throw traditional ballads, of their own personality, at you, like in “Fracture.” This is the first time you can see a bit of the age in Mac’s vocal performance, not that we’re seeing this as a bad thing by any means. Even with that, it’s a song that seems forever innocent, almost timeless. Shouldn’t it all sound just like this? And, if you want that in your face rocker, then you can visit “Rope Light” late in the record, just in case you weren’t sure how much you would love this album.
Occasionally we find a band like Weezer rehashing the same tired sound, but nothing about the work on Majesty Shredding seems dated, or even throwback. Time has treated Superchunk with the appropriate amount of wisdom, allowing them to craft an album that isn’t trying to be anything other than good, simple as that. It’s god ballads you can sing to in your car, its got rockers to get your energy going, and its just a joy to listen to a band who has no intent other than to offer up a great collection of songs that can stand the true test of time. Bands like this make it easy to write about; they just offer up good old fashioned killer rock n’ roll.
Download: Superchunk – Digging for Something [MP3]