Portastatic brightens up Lee's Palace Monday (September 12). Rating: NNNN
Technically, Portastatic's supposed to be the lo-fi solo side project of Mac McCaughan, the dude behind Merge Records and DIY-cons Superchunk. In the past, it's been an outlet for his more experimental impulses, packed with static and the occasional bit of tropicalia. But the only thing that really separates Bright Ideas from a Superchunk release is the lyrical maturity. While they don't reach his sombre post-9/11 Summer Of The Shark depths, the bubbly pop songs on Bright Ideas wistfully reflect on kid's-eye-view memories or depict a doting dad's sweet exploration of mundane marvels. Like John K. Samson, McCaughan's an ace at grafting clever thoughts to great hooks, and the humble tunes here are smart and perfectly simple, though his one foray into weirder turf, the country-bossa Truckstop Cassettes, makes me wish he'd taken more risks.