Superhopper: Does This Sound Exciting Yet?

Superhopper
Does This Sound Exciting Yet?
Guilt-Ridden Pop

Maybe you have to loathe snotty pop punk as a genre, which I do, to really appreciate the exhilarating exceptions. Like fellow Minnesotans the Soviettes, Superhopper know their way around a bridge and take extra care to make their hooks sound like no one else's (not to mention write them in the first place). They add unobtrusive keyboards for harmony, clap along in the studio, and consistently clock in at under a cool three minutes per tune, all despite a seeming lack of hurry or strain. But what makes them truly pop is their facility for the memorable, audible, and economic phrase: "Nobody listens to the words anymore," offers singer-guitarist Kermit Carter on "I Am the Hermit," answering his earlier line, "People ask me why I don't sing about politics and put on the angry face."

Remember, this is a band with a bassist who just returned from the Middle East as a member of the Air Force Reserves ("He ended up killing scorpions," says Carter of William Muller, who remains on active duty but will be home for Friday's CD-release show), a band that freely expresses Wellstone politics via its website (www.superhopper.com). But the worst injustice they tackle on their deeply likeable third CD, Does This Sound Exciting Yet?, is the talent neglected by Saturday Night Live ("Laraine Newman"--one of my favorite cast members as well).

Maybe Superhopper are too hopped-up on self-consciousness to develop into something as urgent, never mind "important," as great punk rock. Having declared, on their last collection of catch-ola, that they "wanna be a big hit in Mid-America" (a reference to the classic Big Hits of Mid-America garage and punk collections), they now struggle with why they aren't (note the album title). "New Fresh Midwest" is told from the point of view of their imagined critics, who say to Carter, "I'll buy your record when you go solo," and add the old chestnut, "It's not new." But the party anthem "Something Real Cool" might have something closer to the real answer: "I don't want to go too far from home/this is all that I know."

 
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