Monday Culture Club - Superchunk

Superchunk is either the second or the third best band of the '90s, depending on how you feel about Pablo Honey. At one time or another they were a staple in college rock—when that was an actual thing—but nowadays they're relative unknowns. I guess that much could be assumed by the purpose of this Culture Club business. Regardless

Here's to Shutting Up is a gentle rock record, but it's not necessarily a gentle-rock record. More than anything, it captures the quaint, comfortable nicety of '90s college rock. Superchunk is a bonafide rock band, but by 2001 they had already written rock records. On Shutting Up they were ready to pull back on the reigns and expose their underbelly.

It's an eloquent moment in flux, without ever out-and-out declaring itself as such. It's too unassuming to be a dissertation; it's merely a snapshot that lets you draw your own conclusions and apply your own dialogue. And that's what gives it such universal appeal—it is what you make it, and it means exactly what you want it to mean. All the while, they encase it in soothing pop that lets you swallow a rigid, thorny capsule called life with ease. Nothing is ever as static as we think it is; and as many teen-angst records there are that either punch awkward transitions in the balls or mope and cry about them, here's one that just tries to coexist without feeling too emasculated.

Maybe there isn't much of an argument for Superchunk over Radiohead; but I still find myself listening to Here's to Shutting Up far more often than OK Computer. While Radiohead solved the riddle of musical landmarks with mechanical precision, Superchunk imprinted an open forum and left it up to the listener to have his/her say. Maybe that's another way of saying it's bland, unaccomplished, generic or lacking in artistic integrity; but if something so bad can sound this good, it must be doing something right. Or maybe pop music isn't as tough as we thought.

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