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SUPERCHUNK
Majesty Shredding
Merge
Format: CD / LP / MP3
Release Date: September 14, 2010
By Steve McPherson April 1, 2011

On the heels of Skyscraper’s relaunch, we’ll be reviewing a number of records from mid-to-late 2010 that we missed out on covering during our semi-hiatus. Sort of a “what we missed” series of reviews, emphasizing both some of the best releases of 2010 and some of the year’s most interesting but overlooked. This is one of those.

It’s just not fair for a band this old to sound this exuberant. Singer and guitarist Mac McCaughan is 45, and sure, he’s not as old as the men of Wire, but Wire had the sense to treat their legacy with a measure of gravitas. Not so for Superchunk, who kick off their don’t-call-it-a-comeback-non-reunion album Majesty Shredding with the rambunctious “Digging for Something.” It’s positively bracing, boiling over with “woo-hoo”s, enough to make listeners who missed out on Superchunk in the past wonder what the hell was going on to pull attention from this charmingly fuzzy North Carolina quartet. Oh right, listening to Soundgarden and confusing Superchunk with Supertramp.

Drawn with a slightly finer point than Pavement, but with a little more pressure, Superchunk is best known for being the band that built Merge Records. When your first well-known song’s called “Slack Motherfucker,” you’re not bound to get loads of radio play. At first, the ensemble’s melodicism was buried under slabs of fuzz. Years of excavation, though, have unearthed it for Majesty Shredding. Songs like “Slow Drip” and “Crossed Wires” boast choruses with a familiar feeling, somehow both shiny as a new penny and worn-in like a good pair of jeans. Meanwhile, subtle stylistic flourishes like “Fractures In Plaster” and its attendant strings keep songs from being guitar-bass-drums pop primping.

The real test for an album like this – one that’s charming, winning, and made up of catchy tunes – is how often listeners discover a new favorite song. By this metric, Majesty Shredding is LeBron Jamesian. At first, “Digging for Something” is the clear standout, but “Crossed Wires” quickly begins to fight its way through with an obsessively repetitive chorus. Then quieter pleasures from “Rosemarie” and “Fractures In Plaster” make their case for listeners’ attention. By the time we’ve fallen in love with “Learned to Surf,” we’ve probably come all the way back around to thinking that no, “Digging for Something” is really the killer jam here. That’s when it starts all over again, realizing Superchunk should have been a favorite all along – and also that they’re in no way affiliated with Supertramp.

Visit: Superchunk | Merge
Purchase: Insound | eMusic