Clearly, the title of Superchunk’s tenth album, “I Hate Music,” out Tuesday, is pure sarcasm. The way the Chapel Hill, North Carolina indie rockers have parlayed their joyously fast tempos, deft chord changes, gutsy solos and irrepressible hooks into a 25-year career isn’t just improbable. It’s incredible. And their influence is far-reaching — just ask the Northwest’s Thermals or Canada’s Weakerthans.
If there’s one knock on Superchunk, however, it’s that while each of its records guarantees roughly a half-dozen standouts — which makes for great setlists — many are essentially great EPs stretched too far. Exceptions exist — 1994’s “Foolish,” 1999’s “Come Pick Me Up” — but “Hate” isn’t one, encumbered by middling material like “Out of the Sun” and overlong closer “What Can We Do.”
When they’re on, though, they’re superb. Frontman Mac McCaughan’s nasally, androgynous vocals will always be an acquired taste, but he’s youthful and excitable as ever on music-nerd paean “Me and You and Jackie Mittoo.” “Staying Home,” meanwhile, encapsulates everything Superchunk does well in a single minute. As McCaughan fights to be heard over the go-for-broke riffs and rhythms, the band’s sheer exuberance cuts right through.