Review by Chuck Eddy. Originally printed in Rolling Stone, 16 April 1992 n628 p84,86.

(2.5 of 5 stars)

Superchunk is a fresh-faced power-pop quartet - three boys, plus a girl on bass - from North Carolina that does one thing and does it, oh, okay. For that, the group is supposed to be one of the up-and-coming hopes for what people with a social of financial stake in such things claim is a resurgent indie-label American rock scene. Superchunk started putting out now-fashionable 45s on its own Merge label just over two years ago and has released an EP and a couple of albums since. The sound is damningly familiar - flat mumbling that aims to show how intense it is by shooting upward into a whine as verses end, above some thick guitar scuzz and a rhythm section that can most charitably be described as well-mannered. It can be quite catchy, as anybody who ever bought a Squirrel Bait, Dinosaur Jr, Soul Asylum, Dag Nasty or, heck, Nirvana record knows well. Hüsker Dü allegedly "invented" it (on Metal Circus, 1983), and nobody's taken it further since.

Tossing Seeds collects what the group's most vocal supporters agree are Superchunk's pinnacles: namely, those collectable singles. The two big statements - "Cool," a cop-out pretending it's hip to be square because all the good themes have already been turned into theme parks, and "Slack Motherfucker," a declaration that it's hip to be lazy because your boss is a jerk - are as memorable as anything on, say, the Huskers' New Day Rising. They're also just as rigid, so Tossing Seeds' nicest(and best sung) cut winds up being a cover of the Shangri-Las' "Train From Kansas City."

Frontman Mac McCaughn does have a sort of polite knack for mundane tantrums - wailing in "Seed Toss" about too-long movies and too-strong coffee, he seems fairly obsessive for a few seconds. But Superchunk could be more exciting if it bypassed some of its purist sincerity (or irony; it's hard to tell anymore) and opted for some gimmicks instead - REM's mandolin, Def Leppard's musique concrète, Pavement's radio static, anything.