Superchunk: I Hate Music (Merge) - album review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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I Hate Music


Aug 22, 2013 Superchunk Bookmark and Share

A key component of the ‘90s alt-rock scene was that many of its musicians had an ambivalence bordering on downright contempt for the very art form they practiced. This thread ran from Mudhoney’s irreverent nonchalance, through Pavement’s one-eyebrow-raised detachment, to the tragically extreme method of retirement expressed in Kurt Cobain’s suicide note. The title of Superchunk’s second record since their nine-year ‘00s sabbatical suggests a band still waging an existential wrestling match with the inherent ridiculousness of music-making. “I hate music/What is it worth?” they ask on “Me, You & Jackie Mittoo,” “Can’t bring anyone back to earth.” Still, they shrug with their flannel-shirted shoulders, “I got nothing else/So I guess here we go…”

Yet if Mac McCaughan’s lyrics are often tinged with regret, cynicism, loss, insecurity, and melancholy, his band’s sound remains defiantly sprightly, anthemic, and joyous. They have a mastery of summery pop hooks (even when juxtaposed with lines such as “Get me out of the sun”) which is reined in by a looseness of musical execution and commitment to rock scuzziness to avoid spilling into Fountains of Wayne over-sheen. As long as you’re willing to look past the potential pleasure barrier of McCaughan’s shrill helium lungs, you’ll be rewarded with dollops of dreamy, wistful, love-stricken college rock (“Low F,” “Trees of Barcelona”), passionate guitar licks with tonal hints of the mighty J. Mascis (“Breaking Down”), Descendents-style frantic suburbs-core (“Staying Home”), and copious catchy choruses plucked from the sparkling clouds of heaven itself.

We all hate music sometimes: when we are forced to endure the blood-boiling complaints-line Muzak; when a band you used to adore resorts to dollar-hungry autopilot; when confronted by Katy Perry’s latest audio plop. Only the most jaded misanthrope could truly hate I Hate Music. (

Author rating: 7/10

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