|Superchunk / What A Time To Be Alive|
|Add Date:||2018-04-29|| ||Pull Date:||2018-07-01|| |
|Week Ending:||13 May||6 May|
After a run of classic indie records in the ‘90s, Superchunk took the 2000s off, focusing on running their legendary record label, Merge. What a Time to Be Alive (no relation to the Drake / Future collaboration) is their third album since emerging from their hiatus, and it’s a protest record, even if it doesn’t explicitly name what it’s protesting. But its grievances are clear: Superchunk is sick and tired of old white (and orange) men standing in the way of progress. But for all its anger, this record often sounds joyous, even excited, like it’s throwing a party while D.C. burns. To be totally honest, Superchunk is a band that I’ve always appreciated more than actually enjoyed, and What a Time to Be Alive has the same problems that their other records have in that it’s difficult to tell the songs apart until you’ve given them multiple listens. They’re all vocal-driven songs where the guitars sound like they’re cranked up as loud as they’ll go—there’s not much in the way of variety, but it's not without highlights.|
FCCs: None (we have an FCC-clean version!)
Favorites: 1, 3, 6, 7
1) “What a Time to Be Alive” (3:50)* – Basically, a Trump diss track, even though the offending president isn’t even named. It’s an upbeat punk song with a couple of lively guitar solos.
2) “Lost My Brain” (1:38) – A louder and more aggressive punk song about questioning your sanity when you think you’re the only sane person among the insane.
3) “Break the Glass” (3:10)* – Guitars are still loud and fast, but this song feels a little more restrained and melodic. Guitar solo in the last minute.
4) “Bad Choices” (2:56) – A subdued but no-less-pissed-off track about the exhaustion and futility of being outraged at all of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s “bad choices.” Great, rollicking drumbeat.
5) “Dead Photographers” (3:18) – Brisk drums and fuzzy guitars. “Dead photographers” sounds like an awesome punk metaphor, but I just don’t know what for.
6) “Erasure” (3:42)* – A slower number that might’ve been called grunge in the ‘90s. It’s sludgier and heavier, but it’s one of the more melodic and dynamic cuts.
7) “I Got Cut” (2:51)* – One of the more lyrically-specific tracks on the album. While lamenting that “all these old men won’t die too soon,” vocalist Mac McCaughan shouts out family planning and Chelsea Manning. Play this track if you’re pissed off about the right-wing’s constant efforts to erode Obamacare and reproductive rights.
8) “Reagan Youth” (2:22) – Named after the anarchist punk band of the ‘80s. Another brisk punk number like “Lost My Brain” or “Dead Photographers.”
9) “Cloud of Hate” (1:14) – A short and noisy song that’s unmistakably aimed at Trump, even if it doesn’t name him. It blames him for ruining the world, even as it seeks some solace in the fact that he probably won’t be living in it much longer.
10) “All for You” (3:27) – Slower (and at times, quieter) and more dynamic number. The band sounds like it turns down the aggression some on this track, and I wish they’d do it more often.
11) “Black Thread” (4:08) – Sure enough, they do turn down the aggression even further on this track. It’s a mid-tempo singalong number that shifts down a few gears from the breakneck velocity of some of the earlier songs. The change of pace is appreciated.