Superchunk: Wild Loneliness [Album Review]

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Wild Loneliness
Merge Records [2022]

Wild Loneliness opens with a simple acoustic strum as Mac McCaughan’s familiar voice starts Superchunk’s newest musical journey that reflects pandemic times. It is an album that battles all the isolation of the last few years and highlights things to be thankful for. Now 30 years into a career, Superchunk deliver an album that highlights their veteran experience with expected solid songwriting and confident compositions. What is different here is that the band catches your ear with a more stripped down Chunk vs. the electric charge found on their 2018 record What A Time To Be Alive and of course the early days.

At the heart of every good Superchunk song the group has always had the ability to grab you with a hook. Nothing changes on Wild Loneliness as one of their best power pop gems exists in “Endless Summer.” The track pushes the pandemic to the side as it tackles climate control, which you will hear as Mac sings “is this the year the leaves don’t lose their color / and hummingbirds they don’t come back to hover / now i’m a broken record, i’m a year-round bummer but / i’m not ready for an / endless summer.” The song also features Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley from Teenage Fanclub supplying the ultra in your head harmonies for the song. They also are not the only guests that show up on Wild Loneliness as R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Andy Stack (Wye Oak), Sharon Van Etten, Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy, Arcade Fire), Franklin Bruno, and Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura all lend their talents to different songs.

If you have never been a Superchunk fan then you probably won’t become one after hearing Wild Loneliness. I say that because this record is not for you. For indie fans, Superchunk is a consistent staple, a long standing icon and always can be counted on for some great music. Wild Loneliness is that record and will be enjoyed by any fan that has been with them through the years. It is full of mid-tempo memorable tracks that at times can reach a classic Chunk electric level on a song like “Refracting” while the more acoustic “Set It Aside” keeps the overall vibe mellower. It is an easy record to connect with and so many times hits pandemic reality head on, like on the somewhat eerie “City Of The Dead” when Mac sings “but i’ll still make the coffee / & we still make the beds / & the kids are scarred but smarter / in the city of the dead.” Pushing through tough times and finding the hope are easy themes for me to support and Superchunk make it even easier, time and time again, with Wild Loneliness!

Key Tracks: “Endless Summer” / “On The Floor” / “If You’re Not Dark”

Artists With Similar Fire: Bob Mould / The Get Up Kids / High Pony

Superchunk Review History: What A Time To Be Alive (2018) / I Hate Music (2013)

Merge Records

Thomas Wilde

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