Album Review: What a Time to Be Alive by Superchunk
Very Good, Based on 3 Critics
Exclaim - 80 Based on rating 8/10
Superchunk didn't feel like a band built to last — their brand of buzzy, lo-fi indie rock sounded like the work of young players barely holding it together, a large part of its appeal. Yet as Mac McCaughan, Laura Ballance, Jim Wilbur and Jon Wurster matured, so did their music. And since their post-oughts re-emergence, they've gotten increasingly better at balancing these two sides of their musical personality.
No record in their catalogue performs this balancing act better than What a Time to Be Alive, their eleventh full-length and first overtly political LP.
What a time to be alive, as US indie veterans Superchunk sarcastically put it in the title track to their 11th LP. Written in immediate response to the electoral victory of the world's most powerful and wretchedly deluded kumquat, this album bristles with anger, desperation and disbelief. Hopeful resilience is occasionally brought to the fore as well, and guest backing vocalists from acts including The Magnetic Fields are on hand to help Superchunk feel less adrift and alone.
If a toxic oligarchy is beating the world into a corner, then the least the world could ask is for a rousing group of rock 'n' roll stalwarts to rub its shoulders and wipe the blood from its eyes. Superchunk's What a Time to Be Alive finds the North Carolina quartet leaping past the ropes and into the ring, not just to rally the trodden-on, but to dole out a black eye or several. An activated rage focuses and elevates the album from standard melodic post-punk to a timely, resonant mission statement.