Superchunk What a Time to Be Alive Merge
When grunge plunged out of commercial fancy, not every 90s band survived the fallout. Yet as co-founders of Merge Records, Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance remain persistent to this day. Thanks to their DIY ethos and stubbornness to debase Superchunk’s trademark sound, time has gifted the Californian indie-punk veterans with steady support, from one passing generation to the next. But as Erasure – lead single to their eleventh full length, What a Time to Be Alive – implies, the world is an increasingly antagonistic and unsupportive place. Stephen Merrit of The Magnetic Fields and Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield contribute to the song’s refrain, “What you’re after; erasure,’” a sweet-sounding, but unnerving chorus in the context of the album’s anxiously political tone. It’s a recurrent theme on tracks such as Reagan Youth and Lost My Brain, the latter of which touches on the sheer carnage of millennial existence. What a Time to Be Alive is also a loud record, enhancing the punky prickles at the nucleus of the band’s poppy songwriting.
Rather than diluting social discourse with aimless angst, Superchunk add a heady lyrical remedy of satire and sincerity to topics that have publicly polarised nations. In turn, this record acts as an olive branch to latch ahold of during the darkest of days. This fear alone makes What a Time to Be Alive a punk record in its truest guise; cleverly destructive and immediate. Nostalgia such as this never sounded so rousingly current.