Medium Rotation — Wild Loneliness; Painless

SUPERCHUNK Wild Loneliness (Merge) — It should not be said that time has mellowed Superchunk. Sure, it’s been more than thirty years since “Slack Motherfucker,” their official debut single after a release under the name Chunk, but the nail-spitting rage of their 2018 album, What a Time to Be Alive, demonstrated there was plenty of fire in their middle-aged bellies. Still, the moan of maturity is audible on the new album Wild Loneliness, befitting their status as left-of-the-dial elder statespersons. Album opener “City of the Dead” even has strings and a sweeping arrangement to go with it’s Gen-X cynicism and withering resignation. The melodically satisfying gloom pervades the album, from the climate change lament “Endless Summer” (“Is this the year the dogwoods, they don’t flower?/ Is this the year the fruit, it all stays sour?””) to the mild bafflement of “If You’re Not Dark” (with Sharon Van Etten pitching in on vocals). Maybe more than ever before, the Merge maestros know their refuge to be taken in music. On the single “This Night,” when Mac McCaughan sings, “The lights are on upstairs/ I could go in the lasting air, listening/ To a final draft of a mix tape/ Time will grind you down,” it feels as right and comfortable as well-worn Chucks. Also check “On the Floor,” “Highly Suspect,” and “Refracting.”

NILUFER YANYA Painless (ATO) — With soulful vocals and smooth-ride, synth-driven pop music, the sophomore album by English performer Nilüfer Yanya is a splendid cocktail of melancholy, buoyancy, and narrowed-eye smarts. It doesn’t so much reinvent indie pop as imperfectly perfect it, snatching the mantle forged by the likes of Prefab Sprout and Everything but the Girl eons ago — and passed along by all manner of obscura cameras and bands bidding a French farewell to their friend Simone in the intervening years — and running forward to slay the dragons of mediocrity. There’s nothing precious about the material on Painless. It all has teeth, as hinted at by the PJ Harvey–ish guitar undercurrent on “Company” and the mantra fervency of “Belong with You.” The cut “Stabilise” has a tense enough energy that it could be the product of a disco-reared version of Savages. The album brings on the best kind of happy delirium, the sparkle-sensation giddiness that comes from being immersed in charmed and charming pure, uncut invention. Lessen your pain with these doses of musical medicine: “The Dealer,” L/R,” “Midnight Sun,” “Try,” and “The Mystic.”

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