Bob Mould’s 00s work, albums such as 2002’s Modulate and 2008’s District Line, saw the former Hüsker Dü man mixing up his trademarked loud guitars with electronic textures and Auto-Tuned vocals – a nod, speculated critics, to Mould’s increasing comfort with his status as an out gay man, not to mention his new sideline as a house DJ promoting his own club night, Blowoff.
As is befitting of a rock’n’roll veteran of several decades standing, though, Mould’s career has progressed in cycles. And Silver Age – somewhat unbelievably, his 10th solo album – constitutes a return of sorts: to the bracing and loud guitar anthemicism of late-period Hüsker Dü and, most of all, his short-lived early-90s power trio Sugar.
This is not a complaint. Mould excels at this stuff. The opening Star Machine is a snarling and acerbic rock strut with a quiet-loud dynamic that reminds you just where Nirvana got it from in the first place. The careening Keep Believing is a sleek fusion of gleaming distortion and breezy angst shot full of uplifting vocal harmonies.
Elsewhere, Steam of Hercules, perhaps befitting of a song with a title that sounds like a rather risqué gentleman’s sauna, stretches out luxuriantly. It’s full of warm blasts of guitar, marked by Jason Narducy’s wandering bass notes.
There is an occasional sensation, on numbers like the Copper Blue-ish The Descent, that we are watching a man reinvent a perfectly good wheel. But that does rather beg the question: what do we want from our rock’n’roll elders? Experimentation is one thing, but don’t underrate the pleasures of hearing a man doing what he does best, enjoying his very own silver age.
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About the Artist
Those familiar with the decades-spanning oeuvre of Bob Mould from his pioneering early 80s work with
Hüsker Dü to his solo work in singer-songwriter, electronic, and rock modes, to the deafening pop sparkle of Sugar might expect a new album bearing the title Silver Age to be a sombre and reflective set in the mode of his last album, 2009's Life and Times...and they'd be way off the mark.
Silver Age is an intense and concise ten song blast far more reminiscent of Bob s latter-day Hüsker Dü output. Recorded with his current touring band of Jon Wurster on drums (Superchunk/Mountain Goats) and Jason Narducy on bass.
"I' d been batting around the idea of another aggressive pop record for some time", Bob says, "especially as the 20th anniversary of Copper Blue kept getting closer." It's no surprise, then, that Silver Age careens out of the speakers with a sense of exhilaration that reflects the excitement with which Bob and his live band cranked out the record in a tight whirlwind of a window in early 2012.
Bob is an indie-rock legend, having fronted seminal 1980s US punk band Hüsker Dü (cited by Nirvana and The Pixies as a huge influence)
Achieved remarkable commercial success with his early-90s power trio Sugar (3 UK top 10 albums including the classic Copper Blue), and has gone onto a critically acclaimed solo career.
The new album strongly references Bob's Sugar period (recently reissued in expanded editions) as well as his recent collaboration with the Foo Fighters (Bob made a guest appearance on their last album Wasting Light and subsequent worldwide tour). A recent testimonial concert to Bob in San Francisco featured appearances from the likes of Dave Grohl and Ryan Adams performing his songs.
It's a vibrant collection of hook-filled pop songs with a powerful contemporary rock production. The album will be preceded by a single The Descent (released worldwide in August 2012).