Slow Note From a Sinking Ship

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As a side project of Superchunk's Mac McCaughan, Portastatic provides an outlet for ideas that would sound out of place on a Superchunk album, and others that would fit right in. Playing by himself for the most part -- with some help from local musicians -- and recorded on a four track, the project has a modest low-fi feel. Quieter and gentler than his regular gig, Mac experiments with analog synths, lap steel, and other instruments, while creating songs with a soft, somber quality about them. While tracks like "San Andreas" and "Taking You With Me" could be Superchunk outtakes, the balance of the album swings from acoustic odes like "Skinny Glasses Girl," to the plush lo-fi atmospheric drone of "The Angels of Sleep," to the Armed Forces-era new wave synth of "A Cunning Latch." Admittedly, there are at least a half-dozen throw-away tracks, but fans of Superchunk, who are used to Mac's voice, will enjoy this album even more than the last Portastatic, because it boasts the same bittersweet melodies and melancholy subjects of his main band with his best solo songwriting to date.

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