Superchunk's genius is a trickier thing, masked as it is by their almost traditional song stylings, and by their public image as a kind of folksier Fugazi--decent people who are as devoted to running an indie label as they are to creating their own music. But On the Mouth was pretty hard to ignore, though many did ignore it, of course. Still, deep inside its perkiness and congeniality lay some of the most intense and unusual beauty in all rock--indie or otherwise.
Hopefully Foolish will convince those who have either taken the band for granted or thought its indie rock slight. A consistently exquisite piece of work, it is the logical next step after On the Mouth. There are no major suprises, but every choice seems suprisingly right. The slower songs have more of the rich spookiness that the band found with On the Mouth's great drug/AIDS anthem, "Swallow That." "Like a Fool," the album's opener, manages the neat trick of being heartbreakingly pure in its intentions, and near-symphonic in its layout; here and in other new songs such as "Driveway to Driveway" and "Kicked In," Superchunk shows a mastery of mid-tempo, experimental pop--rhythmically tense and full of melodic cross-shifts, but overwhelmed with a sincerity that would make Dolly Parton blush.
In a way, Superchunk represents the flowering of mid-'80s British indie pop as propagated by the Pastels, Felt, and the Weather Prophets--bands who had the right idea but the wrong energy levels. I've seen whole parties full of grown men and women jerk to their feet at the first strains of "Prescision Auto," or the new album's "The First Part" and "Why Do You Have To Put a Date On Everything." Delicate, fierce, shy, nerdy, earnest, and ultra-determined, Superchunk is almost painfully loveable.