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Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan: “We’re in a fight to get people engaged”

Superchunk's Mac McCaughan so does not hate music. He just might be his generation's ultimate tastemaker. Let's say you'd decided to only listen to music on one record label, and you picked Merge, which he has run with Superchunk bandmate Laura Ballance since 1989. Well, you'd have the Arcade Fire, the swoon-worthy Magnetic Fields' epic "69 Love Songs," the bristling fervor of Spoon, the luscious balladry of the Clientele, both of Neutral Milk Hotel's magical albums. Oh, and Wild Flag, Teenage Fanclub, Bob Mould, Lambchop, She & Him, Camera Obscura, Ladybug Transistor -- late career genius from masters, orchestral Americana chamber-pop, psych-drenched sunshine, we could go on and on.

But "I Hate Music" is the name of the terrific new Superchunk album, the band's 10th, and the second after a long hiatus throughout the aughts, during which time McCaughan continued recording as Portastatic, and, oh, helped Arcade Fire to the most surprising Grammy win since, I don't know, Christopher Cross bested Pink Floyd and Frank Sinatra in 1980. Superchunk's joyous punk-pop fueled by hypercaffeinated pop rocks has hewn closely to what works for decades now: giddy, breathless, anthemic, road-racing, hookalicious. But the band that delivered slacker anthems like "Slack Motherfucker" and "Cool" more than 20 years ago -- the latter featuring the lines "There's nothing new/And we know it's true/And we're cooler than you," all Frankfurt School and postmodernism you could pogo to -- is on the other side of 40 now. Still pogoing, to be sure, just go see them live -- but also wrestling with bigger questions of life and loss.

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