Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Bob Mould "Silver Age"
it goes without saying that I can't really review this-I'm too much of a fan, too many others have said what needs to be said, and so on and so forth. So, again, like the rest of this blog, it's just me talking about it.
That having said, I do want to correct a few things that have been said about this excellent CD. No, it doesn't sound like Sugar. It's loud rock, written by Bob Mould, but so what? That puts it in league with Sugar, Husker Du, and about a third of his solo records. Furthermore, it's not just a nostalgia trip. These songs could not have been written by a thirty year old man, and they reflect forwards just as well as backwards- for every reference to the power pop of Sugar, there's another reference to proto punk like Johnny Thunders, Radio Birdman, or The Stooges. For every reference to Husker Du Popcore, there's a reference to Pavement styled slacker indie, Superchunk styled velocity pop, and yes, Foo Fighters and QOTSA styled stoner Pop. Basically, whaddya expect? He's in his fifties, and he's written Pop rock since he was twenty. There's a plethora of notions from a vast array of sources, but the foundation is the same as it ever was- late 1960's pop cased in late 1970's post-punk. So, it's not a throwback, it's simply a writer being himself. Besides which, try to count how many of these tropes the man invented! There is no Pixies without Bob Mould, there is no Nirvana, there is no "Alternative Rock" without him. There is no psychedelic punk-at least not in any of the forms we know, so that, alone wipes out about a third of critics' darlings from the past five years, meaning, there is no Pitchfork, either. With all that on your shoulders, you'd do introspective confessional folk rock for 8 years, too. So, this isn't even a matter of a "return to form"- as I see it, it's simply a guy getting comfortable with himself.
So much for the prelude, then- how's the record?
In a nutshell, it's every bit as good as you've heard.
This is a rock record. Specifically, it's a rock record structured equally around riffs and melody. So, no, it's not Metal, and, it's not as tightly formatted as Punk Rock. You can call it Alternative, but at this point, that's nearly meaningless. Would you like it? It's not hardcore, exactly, but it's not mellow, either- the gut check reference would be somewhere between Foo Fighters, Torche, and Weezer- but that somehow just doesn't cut it.
Song By song, it ventures from the brittle grind of Star Machine, to the churn and clang of Silver Age to the relaxed hum of First Time Joy. There's not a bad track on here, if you ask me, but again, I'm such a superfan that quite literally, some of my guitar tone is directly from Bob. That's not metaphoric- I have a stompbox that once belonged to him. So, no, I cannot be objective. Still, if I were to try to sell the record to you, I'd suggest starting with "The Descent" then go to "Briefest Moment" and follow that up with "Star Machine". That really should do the trick. I bet you'd buy it after that.
But, putting aside how much a fan I am, this really is a great rock record. I would easily say it's one of Bob's best. Perhaps it's not as lyrically deep as Bob can get, but didn't some dead British guy say something about brevity being the soul of wit? I think it's confessional enough that you should be able to relate to it at least on some points, but it's more about the tunes, and the power than it is about pondering. You can stream it, and you can buy it. What more can I say? Oh, yeah, this- if you've liked anything I've suggested on this blog- you've liked something that relates in some small way to Bob Mould. So, I bet you already have this. Good choice, then.