I have obviously done myself a rather large disservice over the past
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
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.
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