Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Superchunk -- Leaves In The Gutter

Superchunk -- Leaves In The Gutter (Merge)

Superchunk is back and on this new EP, the band dispenses with any pretense of expanding its sound, which has been evident on its past albums, and commences to playing its trademark brand of rock. On the opener, “Learned to Surf”, the patented Superchunk sound is as good as it has ever been. The song starts with a tight lead guitar line and the dexterious rhythm section gets going and everything builds to a memorable chorus. It’s all so effortless.

The next song, “Misfits & Mistakes”, starts out sounding a fair amount like the band’s classic “The First Part”, with lead guitar interplay over a solid rhythm backing. The verses are a rush with Mac MacCaughen sounding as energized as ever. The song has at least three hooks, from the melodic chorus to the little rhythmic and guitar twists. This could have come off a Superchunk album 10 years ago, and that’s exceedingly high praise.

The band lays back, only in a relative sense, on “Screw It Up”, a mid-tempo track with a dirty rhythm guitar offset by more pleasant sounds from the lead guitar and flowing rhythm section. This is the least memorable track on the EP, but it’s still pretty pleasant.

The band gets back into Superchunk rock mode on “Knock Knock Knock”, again opening with a signature riff before pulling back a bit to reveal the melody. The melody of the verse then flows into a variation on the opening riff which is the bridge into the chorus. Each one of the parts of this song fits together perfectly with the other parts.

The EP ends with a nice acoustic rendering of “Learned to Surf”. These five songs show that Superchunk can still do its thing, and do it at a high level. This bodes well for the band’s next full length release.

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