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Bob Mould
Life And Times
Anti- Records
www.bobmould.com


I have obviously done myself a rather large disservice over the past few years… I have really, inexplicably, kind of ignored the musical career of Bob Mould ever since the Loud Bomb record… I never took the time to listen to his last record District Line and I only gave a couple of listens to Body Of Song in 2005. While I felt like that record was a slight return to his own unique sound, it never lived in my CD player for more than a few cursory listens here and there. Life And Times signals a solid, strong return to the Bob Mould that many of us grew up with, spending formative years listening to his works with Husker Du and Sugar, as well as his phenomenal early solo records. In fact, this record closely resembles the personal impact of Workbook, as Mould played virtually all the instruments and produced and recorded the record himself, with the obvious exception of the drums being played by John Wurster.

In keeping with that observation, the record is heavy on the acoustic guitars and solid rhythms that have pervaded much of Mould's work over the last two decades, recalling some of his finest songs like Sugar's "If I Can't Change Your Mind" or the inexorably beautiful "Wishing Well". Mould doesn't restrain the rock on this new album, either… note songs like "City Lights (Days Go By)" that have driving rhythms and wonderfully chiming guitars that carry the vocals to their pop perfection or "Argos" that lays down the distorted guitar and throttling rhythms that made Sugar such an unequalled rock entity. The title track starts the album off with acoustic guitars that have a very Bob Mould-ish feel to them, setting the tone of the album with simple lyric phrases like "Why'd you have to come around and turn my whole world upside down/you're wrecking me and everything/ you don't even know what you're doing" before the song kicks into rock mode and Mould seethes "What the fuck, what kicked up all this dust/taking me back to the places I left behind/the old life and times". The songs that follow are filled with familiar themes… lost love, the hate that love causes, love itself… but the songs are carried along a wave of sound and phrasing that is inexplicably, and truly, Bob Mould.

If you've been remiss with Bob Mould the way that I have, virtually writing him off for much listening since Modulate first introduced us to the "synthesizer" Mould, then you owe it to yourself - and Bob - to revisit the man's work with Life And Times. If you like the more synthy Mould tracks, there are pieces that will appeal to you here, as well… try "The Breach" with its Nick Rhodes-ian synth lines, but the meat of this album lies in a true return to Mould's real glory… fine guitars, finer melodies, and even finer lyrics. I can honestly say that Mould has re-established himself in my daily listening stacks, which will of course make me go back and revisit his last few records and see just what I've been missing.

-Embo Blake

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