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Superchunk: Majesty Shredding (Merge) 

On 2001's Here's to Shutting Up, Superchunk moved away from the plaintive pop-punk grit that was their hallmark. They've never not sounded like Superchunk, but as early as Indoor Living's "Unbelievable Things," the band was moving in a more orchestral direction. This was pushed further under Jim O'Rourke's tutelage on Come Pick Me Up, where horns and strings ornamented a song cycle closer to Portastatic's balladeering than the iconic propulsive wailing of 1993's On the Mouth.

Majesty Shredding breaks the band's nearly decade-long silence and marks a return to form; it could be a lost album from their Foolish period. The band's trademark blistering enthusiasm runs through every song.

On "Digging for Something," Mac McCaughan sings about a night when everyone is laughing and dancing, caught up in a communal loss of control. As is his way, he positions himself first apart from and bemused by the crowd, but Mac ultimately can't help but join in. "I don't know how to dance this slow, but I can try," he offers. "They" becomes "we" by song's end.

Superchunk has always had a bittersweet generosity to them, writing anthems about bidding farewell to old times and great loves fondly and without resentment. Their latest is just as full-hearted, and it's as good of a record as they've ever made.

They end things with a classic tornado of guitars and irrepressible falsetto; Mac declares the final song to be "about nothing and everything at once." Superchunk here reasserts their totality, and proves they've not gone stale yet.

More by Sean Bottai

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