If Superchunk did things like everyone else, we’d be in a much sadder place. There’d be no Merge Records, there wouldn’t be as many indie labels and we certainly wouldn’t have some of the imaginative releases that the band has dropped over the years. Because the album Foolish is twenty-five years old, it makes sense in traditional Superchunk fashion to record a new acoustic version of the classic album for its own release. With Acoustic Foolish, the band gets guests like Allison Crutchfield, Jenn Wasner and Owen Pallett to name a few to hop on as well, and the result is a re-imagined version of the original.
It’s hard to believe that a band can bring intensity to such songs without the feedback or squeal of electric guitars, but it happens with ease on this release. “Like a Fool” has a nice balanced feel with strings added for more weight. Sure, it’s the same song as all here are-but it’s also not in so many ways. The way the song weighs between the acoustics, Mac’s vocals and the strings has more depth than the original without losing any of its snap in the process. The pure way the song gets redone means that the hits and the parts are different in a way that makes the track feel like it was just written as it appears here.
That’s essentially what this record is, an album re-imagined to be more than just acoustic versions of older tracks but rewritten and reconfigured songs to fit the interpretation. “Water Wings” has the folky guise of a song being played around a campfire, “Why Do You Have to Put a Date on Everything” has all of the drive and energy but it sounds almost completely different as well and “Stretched Out” has more of an easy going stride here than the original.
But with all of that, the one two three punch of the original still remains. One, “Driveway to Driveway” feels like new life has been breathed into it with a more upbeat pacing that has more shimmer than the original. Mac’s voice is more defined here with a piano track that lays underneath perfectly. Two, “Saving My Ticket” still hits when the drums come in, but there’s a different way in which they still fall on your ears. The dual male female vocals have a more earnest feel before that iconic build comes in, creating a moment of pure sorcery before horns come on and take the song to new heights. Three, “Kicked In” almost sounds like a different song where strings complete the circle and the bass line falls just below the vocals to give plenty of heft in how you experience the track. This is Superchunk flexing their attributes for the better in a world that wouldn’t be as great without them doing things their own way.
Acoustic Foolish is available to stream on all streaming sites, it can be purchased digitally directly from Merge Records and it can be picked up on vinyl directly from your local record store. Superchunk is set to perform a small run of dates starting at Thalia Hall in Chicago, IL on June 09 until MRG30 in Carrboro, NC July 24 through July 27. A complete run down of their upcoming appearances can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by Jason Arthurs.