Home Read Albums Of The Week: Superchunk | Wild Loneliness

Albums Of The Week: Superchunk | Wild Loneliness

The indie vets unplug and turn down the volume for this remarkably poppy affair.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Like every record Superchunk has made over the last 30-some years, Wild Loneliness is unskippably excellent and infectious. It’s a blend of stripped-down and lush, electric and acoustic, highs and lows. On Wild Loneliness there are echoes of Come Pick Me Up, Here’s to Shutting Up and Majesty Shredding. After the (completely justifiable) anger of What A Time To Be Alive, this new record is less about what we’ve lost in these harrowing times and more about what we have to be thankful for.

On Wild Loneliness, it feels like the band is refocusing on possibility, and possibility is built into the songs themselves, in the sweet surprises tucked inside them. Like when the sax comes in on the title track, played by Wye Oak’s Andy Stack, adding a completely new texture to the song. Or when Owen Pallett’s strings come in on This Night. Perhaps the best surprise on Wild Loneliness is when the harmonies of Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley of Teenage Fanclub kick in on Endless Summer.

Photo by Brett Villena.

It’s as perfect a pop song as you’ll ever hear sweet, bright, flat-out gorgeous and yet it grapples with the depressing reality of climate change: “Is this the year the leaves don’t lose their color / and hummingbirds, they don’t come back to hover / I don’t mean to be a giant bummer but / I’m not ready / for an endless summer, no / I’m not ready for an endless summer.” I love how the music acts as a kind of counterweight to the lyrics.

Because of COVID, Mac McCaughan, Laura Ballance, Jim Wilbur, Jon Wurster each recorded separately, but that this method made other long-distance contributions possible, from R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Sharon Van Etten, Franklin Bruno and Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura, among others. Some of the songs for the record were written before the pandemic hit, but others, like Wild Loneliness, were written from and about isolation.

Every time we play a record, we remember when we heard it before, and where we were, and who we were. Music crystallizes memories so well. Wild Loneliness will part of your life, part of your memories, too. People in 20, 50, or 100 years will listen to this record and marvel at what these artists created together beauty, possibility, surprise during this alarming (and alarmingly isolated) time. But why wait? Let’s marvel now.”