• Record Label: Merge
  • Release Date: Aug 23, 2005
Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. Both exhilaratingly rocking and gorgeously pensive. [Nov 2005, p.210]
  2. The best record of his career, a collision of the idiosyncratic charms of Portastatic with the exuberant rock power of Superchunk.
  3. More than the sound, the words of Bright Ideas are especially important; they are not particularly eloquent, but they are representative something larger: each clumsy, unsure expression desperately needs to be said.
  4. While the batch he's cooked up on his the latest LP... stays true to the songwriting formula that has gained him over a decade of accolades, "Bright Ideas" does, in fact, find McCaughan at his most sonically expansive to date.
  5. As good as Bright Ideas is, though, I still can't recommend it over say, the last Superchunk record.
  6. The songs are reliably mid-tempo and catchy, although they certainly lack the heedless rush that made the first Superchunk albums such models of indie rock.
  7. Bright Ideas has an air of excitement and energy about it, and contains some of McCaughan's strongest songwriting to date.
  8. Every track here is strong.... Portastatic's best yet. [Oct/Nov 2005, p.122]
  9. 80
    On par with anything in the back catalog. [#69, p.106]
  10. Bright Ideas sounds pretty much like a decent, later-period Superchunk record.
  11. Bright Ideas is more pleasant than kick-ass or inspired. But for an album this deep into his career, at a time when he could start growing aesthetically antsy, McCaughan sticks to a blueprint that works best.
  12. At ten tracks, Bright Ideas doesn’t have a lot of fat, but it ultimately feels like it could have been more successful on the EP format McCaughan is so fond of.
  13. Portastatic is exactly as advertised: catchy, sometimes dumb, occasionally rockin', but always at least competent pop.
  14. While McCaughan retains a lot of his vitality, he can't completely shake off the specter of comfortable maturity. [#11, p.116]
User Score
9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 5 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. leshectic
    Oct 10, 2005
    9
    Excellent rousing indie rock where Mac loses the repetitive Superchunk thrash and grows into a master of catchy laterday GBV-like up-tempo Excellent rousing indie rock where Mac loses the repetitive Superchunk thrash and grows into a master of catchy laterday GBV-like up-tempo rockers (highlighted by the heart of the order in "Through with People", "White Wave", "I Wanna Know Girls", and later "Soft Rewind") tempered with introspective ballads ("Truckstop Cassettes"). Previous efforts 'Summer of the Shark' & 'Autumn was a Lark' were quality but come across as mere solid compilations in comparison. Gone (for better or worse) are the lo-fi homerecorded feel of early Portastic. The aforementioned songs rank easily with Mac's best. The weakest track may be the opener "Bright Ideas", but listeners are rewarded through the remaining disc. The song sequencing makes this a quick enjoyable listen. Lately criminally dismissed as too consistent, this lively diverse set pushes Mac back to the top of the Indie Rock heap. A peak performance. Full Review »
  2. BrianM
    Sep 7, 2005
    9
    This is possibly the best Portastatic record to date. It has the "no-longer-a-side-project" feel. The songs are as strong as any Superchunk This is possibly the best Portastatic record to date. It has the "no-longer-a-side-project" feel. The songs are as strong as any Superchunk release or if not better. This is one of the better albums Mac has been with in the last couple of years. "I'm Through with People" has to be one of his best songs. Overall, this is well worth a shot. Full Review »
  3. raulz
    Sep 7, 2005
    8
    Mac scores again with his side-project Portastatic. Bright Ideas merges the spryer elements of Superchunk with the softer tone of Portastatic Mac scores again with his side-project Portastatic. Bright Ideas merges the spryer elements of Superchunk with the softer tone of Portastatic to a wonderful end.I enjoy it and it is the type of disc that unfolds over time. Full Review »