Superchunk has released their eleventh album of noisy punk fueled indie-rock entitled What a Time to Be Alive in response to today's tense and frustrating world. This is their first release in five years and features guest vocals from members of The Magnetic Fields, Pedro the Lion, A Giant Dog, and Waxahatchee. They spent the 1990's as arguably the decade's most important indie-rock band, releasing a string of quality albums on their own terms with the founding of Merge Records.

This album is basically the first to bring songwriter Mac McCaughan's political beliefs into play. A large portion of the lyrics are devoted to calling out Donald Trump and others in power while maintaining their typical upbeat and danceable melodies. The title track leads off the record, commenting "The scum, the shame, the fucking lies / Oh what a time to be alive." Lost My Brain follows and seems to provide narration for waking up to the unlikely outcome of last year's presidential election. Further into the album, I Got Cut reads as a response to attacks on women's reproductive rights. Reagan Youth invokes the 80's punk band of the same name in its chorus: "Reagan Youth taught you how to feel / Reagan Youth showed you what was real / But to tell the truth there was more than one Reagan Youth," referring to Ronald Reagan's vocal disciples of today. The album closes with Black Thread, one of the catchiest and well-rounded Superchunk songs of recent memory.

Musically, the listener is not going to be surprised by much here. McCaughan's vocals sung in his higher register create head-nodding poppy melodies. The guitars sound thick and layered, but raw at the same time: a combination of crunchy stacatto, octave chords, and sizzling lead guitar solos. Jon Wurster's drumming sounds at its best taking the less obvious route when it comes to providing fills, even in a power-pop based song.

If you've never gotten into Superchunk before, this new album isn't a bad place to start. It contains pieces of sound from the band's previous records without sounding out of place in today's musical climate. In my opinion, we could all use more well-constructed rock songs that are developed only slightly outside of the box.