There isn’t much to celebrate about Superchunk’s eight-year layoff, but here’s one positive: Absence has definitely made the heart grow fonder. By the time of the superb 2001 LP Here’s To Shutting Up, even indie-rock stalwarts were starting to take Superchunk for granted. Now, after nearly a decade of here-and-gone rock trends—not to mention the flood of Superchunk-lite that made up much of the emo movement—even the four workmanlike songs on Superchunk’s new Leaves In The Gutter EP shine like silver. Only one Leaves song belongs on the band’s top shelf: “Learned To Surf,” a charged-up guitar-rock anthem with rolling percussion and a stirring DIY message. (The song is so good that the band reprises it at the end in an acoustic version.) The rest of Leaves In The Gutter is catchy and energetic, though nowhere near as adventurous as Superchunk was becoming before it went on hiatus. Really though, the only problem with this EP is that it’s too short, and too long in coming. In a murky world, Mac McCaughan’s high shout and noisy riffing sounds not like nostalgia, but prophecy.
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