OK. I now feel guilty for taking Superchunk for granted. It’s that whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing. Here’s a nice gauge of how good Superchunk was/is: Leaves In The Gutter is merely a five-song EP packaged together as spring-cleaning while being incredibly reflective in its brief shot.
Of the five, only one is underwhelming (“Misfits & Mistakes”) and it’s easy to understand why the band would lend it to an animated piece of meat to give it some identity.
But the rest of the EP is top notch, only hinting at its status of “also-rans” in terms of tape hiss and distortion. “Screw It Up” is a nice shot of vintage melodic Chunk while “Knock Knock Knock” finds the return of the traditional bash and pop of Tossing Seeds-era material under an efficient three-minute mile.
Those two tracks alone will spark up some nice memories, but “Learned To Surf,” a song so nice they play it twice, will have you longing for what the next step will offer up. The first version features some tricky Mac vs. Wilbur guitar interplay while the second is a gently propelled acoustic. You’ll actually debate yourself deciding which version is better.
Leaves In The Gutter doesn’t add much new to the band’s catalog, but then again, it doesn’t take anything away from it either. One could look at it as getting a few new tracks to hungry fans, but a better way to hear it is as a possible stopgap release while we patiently wait for a full-length. Merge compares it to “their early 7-inches and between-album EP masterpieces” [emphasis added].
It also serves as a tidy reminder that we should not take Superchunk for granted again.