Monday, March 31, 2008

Superchunk are Superfly

I came late to the Superchunk party. I had heard about the Chapel Hill group, but dismissed them as just another slacker grunge band cranking out half-assed melodic punk and trying to cash in on Nirvana’s success. Finally, in 1998, I bought their 1991 CD “No Pocky For Kitty,” which remains a favorite. What I love about Superchunk is that they combine awesome hooks, the energy of punk, and lyrics that are both snotty and poetic. The album opener “Skip Steps 1 & 3” has the refrain “you’ve been sucking wind so long it makes you feel full,” while on “Seed Toss” they prove that even at their brattiest, they have a literary flair:

“you better memorize this face you better stay right in your place i draw the lines here from now on and your picture's already drawn and this movie goes on to long and this coffee's a little to strong and i think that i'm running on well i guess that i'm running”

While the band excels at blistering melodic punk, they could also slow it down a little, and two of my favorite tracks on “No Pocky” are the slow numbers. “Sidewalk” is an ode to a dead-end town, or a dead-end life, with lyrics like:

“Well you say you feel trapped Yeah I bought you a map And I think you'll find In any other sidewalk It's the same old cracks”

“Throwing Things” is a brilliant, haunting song about love, which has some beautiful, poetic imagery:

I'm blowing up the street like a leaf I skin my back a few times you'll see Head over heels, my hands on my heart I'm making a promise, and that's a start You're leaving a trail for me I see you up in the tallest tree (You're) throwing things down at me I'm starting to climb, well I'm starting on my knees Somewhere along the way Dusk it turns back into day The sky is orange The trees lie down against it”

Ah…It kills me every time. I’m starting to go through their discography, money and time permitting, and so far, four discs in, I haven’t gotten a stinker. They don’t have the angst of Nirvana, but they got those mad indie hooks and sad sack lyrics that make me melt.

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