So whaddaya do if the twin poles of your life are your band and your lover (who happens to be in your band), until one day you discover that your lover ain't your lover anymore?
If you're like most people, an average wuss, you spread nasty rumors about the whole thing, dissipate your anger by drinking and fucking around, and wind up spoiling the other half of your life by breaking up the band.
Or, if you're Superchunk, you record the finest, most deeply felt album of your young careers, the just-released Foolish, and put all that nasty nervous energy into ratcheting your already legendary live show up another couple of notches in sheer punk rock fury.
By now, thanks to half the music writers in the country, the world knows that Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance, Superchunk's singer/guitarist and bassist, are no longer anything more than business partners and friends. But while that knowledge might add a certain morbid edge to the act of listening to Foolish, in the end it's unnecessary information, because everything you need to fall in love with the record is already locked into its grooves.
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On Foolish, Mac, Laura and the rest of the band are still struggling, as they always have, with control: of career, of self, of the unpredictable machine of memory. This time, though, it's tinged with the edgy, cautious sense of inevitability that can come only from having lost control once and knowing all too well that it's bound to happen again.
This feeling of resignation can be stifling, as in "The First Part," when McCaughan sings plaintively: "How long does the first part last / before we make our respective messes?" But it can be enormously liberating as well, as in that song's refrain: "One good minute could last me a whole year," sung in the wild, half-desperate voice of a man who knows that one good minute may be all he gets.
It's that sense of liberation via singular, cathartic moments that's always marked Superchunk's live shows. The stage seems to be the one place McCaughan and company feel safe letting go, with the result that even their more solemn, measured material winds up over-revved and supercharged. After all, what are you gonna do, when your little world's falling apart, but get up on stage and rock out?
-- Ross Grady
Superchunk plays Thursday, June 2 at Harvey's Club Deluxe, 2524 McKinney, 223-4705. $8. Drive Like Jehu, Bedhead and Tanner open; intermissions by Lozenge. Doors open at 7 p.m.
* Victoria Shaw at Wild West, Thursday, June 2.
* Webb Wilder at the Satellite Lounge, Friday, June 3.
* Texas and James at Southern Star Amphitheater, Saturday, June 4.
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