Since its formation in 1989, Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Superchunk has dedicated itself to the DIY, indie-rock aesthetic; two of band’s founding members started the Merge label. After releasing eight albums, the band went on a decade-long hiatus. I Hate Music is its second album since getting back together in 2010 and seems to declare that ‘chunk still has the right stuff.
While in no manner imitative, Superchunk could be considered America’s counterpart to the UK’s Buzzcocks — both feature loud, fast, and concise songs; heart-on-sleeve lyrics conveyed with cheerily withering humor; and a balance of raw, blistering vigor and infectious, bittersweet melodic pop hooks. Like the Buzzcocks’ Peter Shelley, Superchunk singer Mac McCaughan sounds as if he’s singing with both a sneer and a smile upon his face.
I Hate Music captures Superchunk in as good a form as it’s ever been. “Me & You & Jackie Mittoo” (Mittoo was a reggae keyboardist and founding member of the iconic Skatalites) is both a celebration of music and a reluctant realization of its limits. “Staying Home” pays homage to the proto-hardcore/thrash style of Black Flag (right down to the frenzied-but-brief guitar solo). The pounding mid-tempo “Out of the Sun” could be a pick-to-click single, brimming over with good-natured lyrical gloom and Beatles-like dynamics. On “Low F,” an exultant chorus is paired with smoldering, melodious guitar leads, and McCaughan’s nasal, keening vocals are as catchy as the common cold. (Merge)