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Superchunk - Majesty Shredding

Superchunk have always managed to do things the right way, both as a band and as a record label.

Twenty years into Superchunk’s storied and distinguished career, the band has continually shaped the music industry not only by virtue of their consistently stellar recorded output, but also through the venerable record label Merge, which was founded by core members Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance. Even though Superchunk have not recorded a proper full-length in nearly ten years, they still influence the tastes and styles of modern music by repeatedly releasing great albums by artists as varied as Arcade Fire, Spoon, and Caribou. And now, with clearly nothing left to prove to fans and critics alike, Superchunk are back with ‘Majesty Shredding’, not only one of the best rock records of the year, but quite simply one of the best albums of their entire illustrious career.

The album bristles with the energy and urgency of a band half their age, but yet has the poise and confidence of music veterans who know exactly what they are doing, in the studio and out, and have clearly perfected their methods and approach to making a record. ‘Majesty Shredding’ represents a blistering, spirited return for the band, one that ultimately doesn’t feel forced at all, nor does it sound like the efforts of a band looking to cash in on the growing spotlight their prominent roster of bands provide. In fact, the record should be a clear wake-up call to the countless bands who have nicked Superchunk’s sound over the years that they really need to step up their game in order to try and keep up with this resolute Chapel Hill quartet.

The appropriately titled ‘Digging For Something’ kicks the album off smartly, with McCaughan singing passionately along with his fierce guitar riff (and perhaps taking a jab at the people who have slept on his band over the years in the process), ‘It’s just getting dark, and you’re waking up.’ It both a kiss off and a triumph of endurance, and sets a frantic pace that is remarkably kept up throughout the rest of the album. ‘My Gap Feels Weird’ is an anthem for all of us who have ever been the kids on the corner, looking for something to come along that finally makes sense and changes us to the core. It’s a gloriously uplifting song, and rings true no matter your age or your current disposition.

On an album as good as this, the hits are relentless and unyielding, with ‘Rosemarie’ and its rousing chorus blending right into the blinding passion of ‘Crossed Wires.’ The band just doesn’t ease up at all on this record, keeping it in high gear right from the start right through the breathless finish of ‘Everything At Once.’ So much so, that songs like ‘Fractures In Plaster,’ which is a bit of a somber, sedate number, still comes across as a slow-burning, dynamic hymn to the times and people that have passed and are now striking, evocative memories that we can cling to in our lonelier moments. The band shifts quickly back to full-throttle on the raucous ‘Learned To Surf,’ (which was also featured on last year’s Leaves In The Gutter EP), one of the best songs Superchunk have written in years. It’s impossible to not get swept away in the fitful energy of this track, with Mac’s desperate, urgent vocals soaring above an insistent, powerful melody that finds the band boisterously ablaze with a passion they’ve never fully let go of.

‘Winter Games,’ one of the many highlights of the album’s strong second half, is a hilarious warning to all of the countries around the world that are desperate to host the Olympics (*ahem* England), that members of any generation can simply sleep through an event that you put so much stock and money in; your reputation should instead be based on something far more tangible and lasting. Superchunk’s strong standing among those in the know in the music industry has never been questioned, but with Majesty Shredding, the band reminds all of us that they were making this rousing racket before there was any type of scene to speak of, or a signature sound to identify with.

Superchunk have always managed to do things the right way, both as a band and as a record label. And, quite frankly, they’ve done it better than anyone else and it is about time that everyone takes notice. Hopefully, those listeners who either weren’t around or not paying attention during Superchunk’s heyday will now be aware of a band that deserves to be heard by all. And for those die-hard fans that have been around for the start, this record not only justifies our dedication and loyalty to Superchunk throughout the years, but it gives us another batch of sensational songs to test the volume limits of our sound systems as we sing along loudly with the band we proudly love.

Tags: Superchunk, Reviews, Album Reviews

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