Superchunk - I Hate Music (Merge)

Indie-pop punk pioneers have grown up but they retain the magic

Released Aug 19th, 2013 via Merge / By Lewie Peckham
Superchunk - I Hate Music (Merge) With 2010’s return to form in the shape of the anthemic Majesty Shredding, North Carolina indie rock/pop punk legends Superchunk showed how revitalised they were after a near ten-year hiatus. On I Hate Music, Superchunk sound no less celebratory musically but there is a darker, more introspective, lyrical tone that flows through the album’s 11 tracks like a stream of contemplation. “I hate music, what is it worth? Can’t bring anyone back to this earth,” barks frontman Mac McCaughan in his gloriously urgent yelp of a voice. The song in question, ‘Me, You and Jackie Mitoo’, sums up I Hate Music’s themes of growing up and the cynicism that comes with getting older.

I Hate Music is not a curmudgeonly-sounding record - Superchunk are still one of the only bands from their ‘90s peer group, who play with the same vitality and exuberance as they did in their heyday. If any more proof is needed, then the melodic hardcore of ‘Staying Home’ is a nod to the band’s roots in the Chapel Hill punk scene, channelling The Descendents’ suburban angst. Songs like 'Trees of Barcelona' and the stunning ‘Breaking Down’ are prime examples of McCaughan’s underrated song-writing ability. Both tracks seamlessly mix the stirring, scream-along choruses that were in abundance on Majesty Shredding while containing the same vulnerable heart that past ‘Chunk classics ‘Driveway to Driveway’ and ‘Detroit has a Skyline’ had coupled with huge bursts of the glorious noise that made them such a dominant fixture in the record collections of any self-respecting fan of U.S. indie over the last 20 years. ‘Your Theme’ is a heart-rending ode to love and friendship, which sees McCaughan dreaming of “What I'd do to waste an afternoon with you”, showing what a knack Superchunk still have for churning out heartfelt, fun and, most of all, noisy rock music after the best part of two decades.

You will not find a better rock record this year than I Hate Music and, with this album, Superchunk have shown they are still a vital band that needs to be heard. Even with the cynicism of the album’s lyrical content, I Hate Music is more celebration than lamentation.