BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
It’s one thing to be a prolific musician who fronts a band with a 25 year long career and eleven groundbreaking albums to their credit. It’s quite another to found a successful record label that’s become a bastion to other indie artists. So credit Superchunk singer/guitarist/helmsman Mac McCaughan for accomplishing all that and more, including undertaking several side projects and mentoring other artists with similar designs. It’s a legacy to be proud of, and one that continues to unfold with every new undertaking McCaughan and his crew are involved in.
Their latest results, as embodied in Superchunk’s new album What a Time to be Alive, is similarly inspired, a steady, insistent set of songs of unceasing intensity and punk-fuelled passion. One wouldn’t expect such an intensive effort at this stage in the band’s career, but indeed, a single listen to songs such as “Lost My Brain,” “Break the Glass,” “Dead Photographers,” and “Erasure” offers the impression that they’re still the upstarts they were in the beginning, unrepentant and undeterred in their determination to make a frantic noise. An apparent commentary on our times (“…the scum the shame the fucking lies”) and its insidious origins (“Reagan youth/Taught you how to feel/Reagan your/Showed you what was real”), it’s an album that repudiates the half-truths and tactics of fear and suppression that seem to have become part of our national calling. The music seizes on those dire designs with spit and ferocity, –dark, defiant and fully roused.
Ultimately, Superchunk deserve credits for having not been tamed by success or their great degree of respectability. (This is the same group whose earlier album once opined “I Hate Music.” An album flush with both vicissitudes and vitality, <I> What a Time to be Alive <I> resonates with its resolve.
DOWNLOAD: “Lost My Brain,” “Break the Glass,” “Dead Photographers”