The greatest strength of Superchunk’s second record No Pocky For Kitty, released in 1991, was the environment and the mindset that encompassed its recording process. This album pushed the band further by capturing the power and energy of their debut’s most popular hit “Slack Motherfucker”. Using all of their loud punk energy, the bright melodies, and their carefree attitude as a base for their sophomore release.
From the opening track, “Skip Steps 1 & 3”, it’s clearly noticeable that the band is on another level. The speed and rhythms are more controlled, the stop-start cadence is filled with reckless abandon, evoking a liberating feeling that’s a highlight of good pop-punk. Surprisingly enough, much of the angst and darkness surrounding grunge and alternative rock at that time can hardly be heard here.
At the core of this evolution is Steve Albini, who caught the band’s mid-national tour to do their recording sessions. The songs were written quickly and allowed little room for rumination. The end result is a free ride, reckless and enjoyable, bright and melodic. Albini was able to capture the sound that fit the band realistically, with their touring prowess and habits still at hand. The band felt that it really fit their aesthetic, resulting in a sound where it’s clear they’re really enjoying themselves.
Other highlights include “Cast Iron” and “Seed Toss” capturing the noise and urgency of punk with a catchiness that’s up there with the of best pop’s songcraft. Also of note are outliers like “Tie a Rope To The Back of the Bus” which adds a playful and whimsical side to the band, melding its playful melody with the utterly destructive whims of its narrator. Another is the closer “Throwing Things” which shifts to a grounded and introspective mood, where its predecessors were bright and carefree this one feels a little more sensitive and sincere.
No Pocky for Kitty is where the band would shake off their growing pains. Albini was able to put the band in a space where their music could shine, Superchunk showed up with their A-game and the rest is history. A history we’ll keep checking out as we move along with their discography.