Now that all issues of residency and the shifting of stuff from old to new home are in the recent past, I can get back to several albums in my review queue. Superchunk's newest, I Hate Music, is the first of these, and has been on repeat, a soundtrack of our family's real estate adventure of the last month. I must admit that I've not listened to a recorded Superchunk album in its entirety since their second album, though I've heard songs from the various albums since on the radio and seen them play those songs live many times. I think in part it was such ability to seen Superchunk live that negated a need to listen to the records for me since in many ways they have been a band I expected to listen to live more so than recorded. But as my capability to see live music drastically shrank moving from Chapel Hill (and no longer working at the Cats Cradle) to this northern locale, I have relied more and more on recorded music.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that I have been listening to I Hate Music near constantly, every morning on the train into the city, and it enriched the commute greatly. The blend of songs on I Hate Music is near perfect: from the slow reveal of the opening track "Overflows" to the almost anthemic "Me & You & Jackie Mittoo" to the frantic pace of "Staying Home" to the delight of "Trees Of Barcelona" to the epic journey of the final track "What Can We Do" and on the tracks in between Mac, Laura, Jim and John hit that balance of cool excitement, musical precision and great songwriting that most bands never achieve. Mac's vocals are in their best form yet, with lyrics worthy of that form, striking a very hard target of melody and intelligence, with some great choruses phrases such as in "Me & You & Jackie Mittoo" and "What Can We Do". There is here too, not a weariness, but a wisdom, an experience tied to longevity without compromise, and in lots of ways, a revitalized energy. In other words, I Hate Music is the best music from Superchunk in a while and that's saying a lot.
I Hate Music by Superchunk is out now from Merge Records.
A digital download was provided for review.