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Superchunk: Spiky Rock, With Headlong Glee

"Learned to Surf" is evidence that a band can age gracefully if it can just hang on to its nerve. The Superchunk fan of 1993 would have no trouble recognizing the song as the product of the group that helped define the indie-rock scene of the post-Nirvana era.

More to the point, that fan would be amazed at Superchunk's lack of flabbiness as it embarks on its third decade. Reconvening after an eight-year hiatus, the band sounds energized and sharply focused in its celebration of willful self-sufficiency. There's nothing about "Learned to Surf" that sounds tired, from Jon Wurster's propulsive drumming to the guitars' roar to the way Mac McCaughan bites off the mission-statement line, "I stopped sinking and learned to surf."

If hanging ten seems a strange choice of metaphor for a band that formed in North Carolina, it doesn't really matter: Superchunk's spiky guitar-pop still flies out of every corner. Fired by headlong glee, "Learned to Surf" sounds like McCaughan and company didn't give up what made them appealing as youths. More importantly, it sounds like they still believe it.

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Marc Hirsh lives in the Boston area, where he indulges in the magic trinity of improv comedy, competitive adult four square and music journalism. He has won trophies for one of these, but refuses to say which.