When people say that an album is a return a form, what they often really mean is that it’s better than the string of mediocrity that preceded it. But in the case of Superchunk’s Majesty Shredding, the band’s ninth studio disc and first since 2001, the influential Chapel Hill quartet really has rediscovered the spark that made its output from the first half of the ’90s such an important part of the indie-rock canon. After mellowing out around the turn of the millennium, Superchunk has used its nine years off to put the pogo back into its step, aided by a more concise writing and recording process that echoed the band’s early days. The result is 42 minutes of delicious distortion and fountain-of-youth fun, opening with sing-along “oh oh oh”s in the chorus of “Digging For Something” and the equally exuberant “My Gap Feels Weird,” which serves as a reminder of where some of those second-wave emo acts got their ideas. Majesty Shredding lives up to its name and doesn’t waste much time catching its breath, and along the way Superchunk delivers something that used to be expected of the band: an album on which every song sounds as inspired as the next one. Entering its third decade, the only thing Superchunk had left to prove was that it wasn’t fading away. It does that here with style: As frontman Mac McCaughan sings halfway through Majesty Shredding, he’s stopped sinking and swimming and learned to surf.
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