Despite their status as indie rock heroes of the 90s, Superchunk are anything but slackers. On some of their most beloved songs, Mac McCaughan has railed against inconsiderate drivers, package thieves, and um, slack motherfuckers. The frustrations of the daily grind aren’t dealt with through avoidance or caustic passive-aggressiveness like the somewhat similarly-minded Pissed Jeans. McCaughan is fed up and isn’t going to let you contradict him with your attempts at revisionism.

On What a Time to Be Alive, the band’s eleventh album and third of the 2010s (for my money, their hiatus-ending Majesty Shredding was a better comeback from a beloved 90s band than No Cities To Love), those seemingly big fish are a whole lot smaller in light of what the band’s tackling here: Trump’s America/world. If anything is going to stop him, it’s not a quartet of North Carolinians who were likely playing colleges and dive bars when he settling his first few bankruptcies/divorces/lawsuits. Last Week Tonight fans might think of the recurring bit where John Oliver catches Trump in a lie and preemptively declares “WE GOT HIM!” before being told he has, in fact, not been gotten.

Yet, What a Time to Be Alive is a minor miracle in that it provides an escape while acknowledging the depths of how fucked we are. It’s a hurricane of pop-punk fury with as much ferocity as anything the band recorded 25+ years ago. Precarious political situations don’t necessarily beget great (or even good) art, but Superchunk are veterans of scrappy empowerment and this album continues their post-revival winning streak of making albums because the moment calls for it, not because they want to cash it on their name.

Up against the POTUS, McCaughan realizes himself, bassist Laura Ballance, guitarist Jim Wilbur, and drummer Jon Wurster, as part of a vast number of would-be Davids facing Goliath. “We’re small people looking up at you,” he sneers on the brief barn burner ‘Lost My Brain.’ On the even-shorter ‘Cloud of Hate,’ he opens with a stronger declaration: “You broke the world, but you’re not long for.” Right after, the more jangly guitars of ‘All For You’ are joined by the typically pacifistic McCaughan challenging Trump (and possibly his cronies and supporters to a fight).

Those tracks come towards the end, and much of the album feels like working oneself up to even that level of courage. The opening title track hearkens back to the disbelief felt on election night 2016 or Inauguration Day 2017 that hasn’t let up since. (“The scum, the shame, the fucking lies. Oh, what a time to be alive”). Like much of the album, it’s impossibly catchy, with vocal harmonies and an emboldened guitar solo. (if there’s anything else to take away from this album, it’s that sometimes you just need a good guitar solo to let the frustrations out) However, the catchiness never uncuts the gravity of the message. It’s exhilarating but impactful all at once. Angry as they might be, Superchunk aren’t going to allow these times to let them phone anything in.

Instead of leaning on bumper sticker slogans to make the same point again and again, they look inward and consider how we got here. The title track bites against echo chambers (“We can’t pretend to be surprised”). ‘Break the Glass’ examines how we put on our best faces in light of everything falling apart. (“Everyone is acting normal, but no one’s sleeping through the night.”) McCaughan admits to “a lifetime of shit decisions.” On the most-explicitly political track, the delightfully zealous ‘Reagan Youth,’ they take us back to 1981 and 1989, showing how it’s same as it ever was. Lyrically-speaking, this time capsule works better than the otherwise-excellent ‘I Got Cut’ (with a “Free Chelsea Manning” decree that doesn’t hold up great considering her release last May. Not to mention he rhymes her name with “family planning”). ‘Dead Photographers’ is another strong track thanks to its instrumental richness and sheer conviction in performance. Yet, the provocation of the title doesn’t quite get the payoff it deserves. The Stephin Merritt and Katie Crutchfield-featuring ‘Erasure,’ works better by developing the album’s thesis of we’re-all-in-this-together. (“Shift in shapes, you’re just an auctioneer/and we’re still here.”)

Closer ‘Black Thread’ is Superchunk’s opportunity to get slow and contemplative (not that every song here is cranked to the nth degree). The significance of the chorus chant of “cut the black thread” is lost on me, but even if it’s merely symbolic, it still seems like it can make the moment slightly more bearable. A riveting collection of songs like this might not begin to heal the woes of the world, but Superchunk understand that indifference will get us nowhere.