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Come Pick Me Up [Bonus Download]

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Superchunk 7/10/2015

Review

It is an objective fact that Superchunk have never made a bad album, but after the early one-two punch of No Pocky for Kitty (1991) and On the Mouth (1993), they often seemed to be looking for something different to do with their aggressive but emotional sound without always finding it, especially on the harrowing breakup album Foolish (1994) and the energetic but emotionally spent Here's Where the Strings Come In (1995). Bringing in horn charts and orchestration might have seemed like a strange new path for a group that thrived on simple but galvanized guitar bashing, but 1999's Come Pick Me Up proved an inspired stylistic detour for Superchunk. Working with producer Jim O'Rourke, who brought in keyboards, string sections, and keyboards for many of the tracks, as well as giving the recordings a less dense and more open sound, Superchunk seemed more comfortable exploring the pop side of their formula than their amped-up punk rock attack, and the result was an album that still decisively rocked but honored the intelligence of Superchunk's melodies in a new and refreshing way. If the smooth string breaks on "Hello Hawk" or "1000 Pounds" seem surprising on first listen, the yin and yang of orchestral instruments vs. rock & roll guitars prove quite satisfying as the album wears on, and when Mac McCaughan wears his heart on his sleeve on "June Showers," "Pulled Muscle," or "You Can Count on Me (In the Worst Way)," the added musical textures (as well as the more carefully executed harmonies) work wonders. (It also helps that O'Rourke's arrangements are intelligent and punctuate the melodies without smothering them.) Come Pick Me Up is more artful and layered than most of Superchunk's recorded work, but it's still clearly their work, with their aural signatures in plain sight, and it's an experiment that works remarkably well, showing this band can mess with their formula and still sound strong and in command. [In 2015, Superchunk gave Come Pick Me Up a remastered reissue through their own Merge Records label which included eight download-only bonus tracks. Three are acoustic performances by the group, five are demo recordings with McCaughan alone with his acoustic guitar, and with the exception of "White Noise," all are songs that appear on the album. The bonus performances ultimately prove this band works best with some amps and a proper drum kit, but these stripped-down versions do make for an interesting contrast with the more polished and enhanced recordings that dominate the album.] ~ Mark Deming
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 So Convinced Superchunk 1:58
  3. 2 Hello Hawk Superchunk 4:3
  4. 3 Cursed Mirror Superchunk 3:3
  5. 4 1000 Pounds Superchunk 3:8
  6. 5 Good Dreams Superchunk 2:59
  7. 6 Low Branches Superchunk 2:8
  8. 7 Pink Clouds Superchunk 3:21
  9. 8 Smarter Hearts Superchunk 4:23
  10. 9 Honey Bee Superchunk 3:40
  11. 10 June Showers Superchunk 3:49
  12. 11 Pulled Muscle Superchunk 3:8
  13. 12 Tiny Bombs Superchunk 4:51
  14. 13 You Can Always Count on Me (In the Worst Way) Superchunk 2:40

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