Superchunk - On the Mouth (1992)

On the Mouth

Tracklist

  1. Precision Auto
  2. From the Curve
  3. For Tension
  4. Mower
  5. Package Thief
  6. Swallow That
  7. I Guess I Remembered It Wrong
  8. New Low
  9. Untied
  10. The Question Is How Fast
  11. Trash Heap
  12. Flawless
  13. The Only Piece That You Get

Superchunk is an Indie Rock band, that formed in 1989 and keeps releasing albums to this day. I lost track of them in the late nineties, but with Foolish and On the Mouth they created 2 of my most valued Punk-inspired Indie albums.

Superchunk hit several nerves in me and not in a good way. The nasal singing of vocalist Mac McCaughan the somewhat mellow direction of the overall sound, our relationship wasn't built on healthy grounds. Yet somehow the band managed to make me appreciate On the Mouth far more than I should and there are of course reasons for this.

First of all there is the production, which is dynamic and clean, without sacrificing any of the alternative feeling. The drums are well present in the mix without overshadowing the rest. The guitar tone, while only half-maxed out fits the whole thing just perfectly. All in all this is one of the finest masterings of the early 90s Indie scene. Punchy, but not in your face.

Another thing has to be said about the guitars, because those are what makes this record really shine. There is not a single song on this record to be found that relies on chords alone. Jack McCook has a very playful style, full of little leads and melodies and what's maybe even more important: He knows how to add a little Noise to the mix. Yes, there are slight influences of Noise Rock on On the Mouth which help catapulting this album above its peers.

Of course all this is good and well, but ultimately it's not worth alot if the songs suck and the band proved that they are able to write memoriable songs that still work decades later.

Take standout track Package Thief with its forward pushing rhythm that has it all. An instantly captivating guitar melody, a somewhat punky drum track, an even more pushing bridge and an enormous replayability. Songs such as this show Superchunk from their most "heavy" perspective. Opener Precision Auto takes a similar route but instead of melodies this one gains momentum with its guitars laying out a loud and noisy foundation, that isn't too far away from Sonic Youths more melodic moments. From the Curve, The Question is How Fast or Flawless also represent this louder side of the band.

Some call Superchunk the inventors of Emo music and while this might be a far fetched statement songs such as Hower or Swallow That indeed show a more emotional aspect of their sound. All in all monotone and mellow songs, which then suddenly pick up that one special hook that leads to - again - noise.

Superchunk is one of the few remaining acts from the late 80s/early 90s. It's nice to see them still having fun playing music, even if I have lost track of them after they lost most of their energy around the millenium. But their early recordings will surely stick with me for a few more decades to come.

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