Superchunk’s first release of new material since 2001 is the appropriately titled Leaves in the Gutter. The five songs featured on the EP have been in and out of the band’s repertoire for the past few years, and they needed to be released before work could begin on a new album. As singer/guitarist Mac McCaughan says, “A couple of them I really like, but they already feel like they’re from another era and wouldn’t fit on a new album anyway…we kind of felt like if we’re going to get to work on a new album we need to clear the decks of these songs first.”
Leaves in the Gutter serves as a reminder of what made Superchunk such a vital band in the 1990s. Since then,little has changed; McCaughan’s barreling pop-punk guitar sets the table for the band, its runway, reckless sound like a late-night party about to go into overdrive. Given that, it is surprising that the stand-out track is the acoustic version of “Learned to Surf,” which closes the EP (an electric version opens the release), revealing a depth in McCaughan’s playing that is often overlooked by the ferocity and energy of the band. With a new album possible in the near future, perhaps this hints at a possible new direction for the seminal band.
Leaves in the Gutter is out now on Merge Records.