Essential New Music: Mac McCaughan’s “Staring At Your Hologram”


In 2015, Superchunk/Portastatic/Merge Records ringleader Mac McCaughan released Non-Believers, his debut solo album and one of the year’s most surprising creative statements. McCaughan’s intent was to craft songs that addressed teenage alienation and confusion from an adult perspective, set to an ’80s soundtrack at the nexus of punk and new wave. It was fascinating and compelling, like finding the band from three decades ago that steered both A.C. Newman and Dan Bejar.

For those hoping that McCaughan’s sophomore solo outing would revisit this territory, Staring At Your Hologram fits the bill … sort of. And not at all. With Hologram, McCaughan plays to his Cocteau Twins/krautrock influences on a remixed/deconstructed instrumental version of Non-Believers’ 10 songs, woven together into one long 40-minute suite. It’s almost as if Robert Fripp, Brian Eno and Dieter Moebius collaborated on No Pussyfooting and created their vision of a melodic pop record. As compelling as its root album, Staring At Your Hologram’s only hitch is its unbroken length, which will limit its rotation in most playlists.

—Brian Baker