Bob Mould - Silver Age

by Mark Hammond Rating:7 Release Date:2012-09-04

Husker Du, Norwegian for 'do you remember'? It's pretty hard to forget a band of Husker Du's standing, even if they did break up some 25 years ago. From the aptly-titled Land Speed Record released on The Minutemen's New Alliance label, through recordings with Spot as SST's first non-West Coast artist, right up until their leap to Warner, Husker Du made an indelible mark on music in the 80s. The lasting legacy of the Minnesotan trio is that they convinced the underground that melody and punk weren't antithetical, informing much of what would happen with alternative music in the 90s and beyond.

It's certainly easy to recall Husker Du's talismanic frontman, Mr Bob Mould. Following Husker Du's bilious tenure, he released a couple of well-received solo albums before forming Sugar. With Sugar, Mould went onto further acclaim - 1992's Copper Blue was deigned Album of the Year by the NME. Mould has worked on numerous solo projects thereon, has bagged himself a DJ gig with Blow Off, has been outed by Spin magazine and even contributed some scriptwriting to World Championship Wrestling! (Let's hope that it wasn't Bob's idea to give the belt to David Arquette). The aforementioned Copper Blue has just been reissued and to mark this Bob has taken bassist Jason Narducy and Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster out on the road to perform the album in its entirety.

Somewhere between all this, Bob managed to write an autobiography with Michael Azerrad (author of the essential Our Band Could Be Your Life). In interview Bob quipped that if he ever finished the book it would be nice to make a 'simple rock record'. With Silver Age he does just this. 'Star Machine' opens things with a punch, making it startlingly clear just how much Foo Fighters have aped Mould's more abrasive moments (In fairness to Dave Grohl he openly admits this). The title track is as irascible as any man in his 50s should ever be allowed to be - "I'm never too old to contain my rage/ the Silver Age" indeed.

'The Descent' keeps the knife-edged locomotive chugging along with the energy associated with Bob's earliest work, the lyrics cutting a particularly prickly verge: "Can I drown/ to make it up to you somehow?" Elsewhere, lyrically it sounds as if the recent venture into memoir-writing has freed up a lot of Bob's previously guarded personal recollections. On 'Briefest Moment' he opines "I was just a small town kid with no possessions".

There's a quaint sense of openness and vitality in the conviction of delivery on Silver Age despite the music being ever-so-slightly formulaic in places. Bob isn't covering any new ground here but he is certainly in touch with the buzz-saw angst and melody which helped solidify him as an elder statesman of hardcore in the first place - but with a rage which says maybe he's not comfortable to luxuriate in the role just yet.

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