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Protest Song Of Week: ‘Cloud Of Hate’ by Superchunk

“I hope you die scared of all the kids that know the truth.”

That line from the recently released Superchunk song “Cloud of Hate” sounds like it was written specifically to soundtrack the past two weeks in national headlines.

Indeed, the song could have been written about the emerging youth movement for gun control currently shouting truth to power; about these weeks when teenagers in Florida have shed more sensibility on the gun debate than most politicians, namely the president.

But “Cloud of Hate” was actually written over a year ago. The North Carolina band wrote its latest album, “What A Time to Be Alive,” between November 2016 and February 2017. It was released by Merge Records, the label that Superchunk bassist Laura Ballance and singer/guitarist Mac McCaughan have operated since 1989.

Thirty years and eleven albums into the band’s career, “What A Time to Be Alive” finds Superchunk writing its most direct protest songs. It’s one of the year’s most political indie rock records yet, with lyrics that largely process life in America under a Trump presidency.

On the album, the legendary punk-spirited group rails against “the scum, the shame, the fucking lies” on the title track, and sings about Chelsea Manning on the song “I Got Cut” (originally released as a 7-inch in June 2017).

“All your bad choices are gonna cause suffering,” sings McCaughan on “Bad Choices,” while “Erasure” is poignant guitar pop song about refusing to back down: “Hate so graceless and so cavalier / we don’t just disappear / shifting shapes, you’re just an auctioneer / but we’re still here.”

Yet, perhaps, “Cloud of Hate” makes one of the album’s most resonant statements. At only a minute and thirteen seconds long, it is the briefest song on the album.

“You broke the world that you’re not long for / You broke the world we’re living in,” sings McCaughan.

It’s a shout-along, fist-pumping burst of sharp, relentless pop punk energy, and a reminder that often the most powerful punches are the shortest and fastest.

Listen to Superchunk’s “Cloud of Hate” on their Bandcamp page or by clicking on the below player:

Reality Winner's home in Georgia. Photo by Kevin Gosztola.
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Liz Pelly

Liz Pelly