Review Summary: As "Foolish" stands, it's an album of heavy punk hooks and head-nodding anthems, with a target of shrill cries and melody laden guitar riffs. It's a fun album that displays true 90s punk at its finest.
Being congenially consistent in music comes as no easy task. Even for those who have been tagged as being exceptionally outstanding from start to finish, they are usually shrouded in some myth or doubt, with examples being The Rolling Stones' "Voodoo Lounge" and The Replacements' later albums on major label Warner Brothers. However, there are those who defy odds and put out record after record without losing a touch of excitement, joy, or experimental flirtation. Superchunk, one of the many Chapel Hill bands to emerge to prominence in the 90s, is one of those bands.
As "Foolish" stands, it's an album of heavy punk hooks and head-nodding anthems, with a target of shrill cries and melody laden guitar riffs. There is also deep exposure to experimentation with positive noise ("Like a Fool" and "Keeping Track") that keeps the album just zippy enough to stay away from the "it's the same old same old" statement. So with a mix of Superchunk punk staples and varying positive drift, "Foolish" should be on anyone's musical shelf.
The album starts with one of the more majestic tracks of the series with "Like a Fool." Starting with quiet guitar twangs, the song soon takes off around the minute mark with a bombarding clasp of firecracker like drums and a double in sound. With falsetto croons about "reading the sign out loud," lead singer and guitarist Max McCaughan displays his versatility over one of the bigger hooks on the album.
From there, "Foolish" takes off and then coasts in the air with songs about drunken adventures and college-like love. On "Stretched Out," McCaughan builds to the chorus as he states that he "has no use" but "has a clue," and is then followed with a middle song breakdown filled with musical excitement only to settle for spot on story-like resolution. On "Driveway to Driveway" (a must listen), the band opens with a scale throbbing melody and soon delves into a story about a man who drunkenly goes after a special interest. Over the best chorus progression on "Foolish", McCaughan readily admits, "from stage to stage we flew/a drink in every hand/my hand on your heart had been replaced/and i thought it was you that i had chased."
The rest of "Foolish" tends to circle around the same subject matter and musical stamina, but with positive variance so there's very little plodding. Its focus on simple yet interesting subject matter makes it one of the better punk albums of the early 90s, and without it, punk would be missing one of its better albums. The closer "In a Stage a Whisper" caps off this consistent piece with a slow moving confession, and around the three minute mark the band tries to give one last gasp with a blast of a breakdown, but falls back into an anti-climactic ending admitting that it's time to stop, until next time.