Friday, January 04, 2013

On the Seventh Day... Bob Mould (Silver Age)

Fresh off his autobiography being published, Bob Mould announced that he would be touring in 2012 for the 20th anniversary of Sugar's Copper Blue by playing the album in its entirety. As an aside, he also indicated that he'd be including selections from his new album, Silver Age.

It's a typical rock move:  there are countless examples of groups where the fans stand up and scream for the classics, then sit on their hands for the new material that just can't hold its weight in comparison to past brilliance.

Copper Blue rightfully got the star billing, but in this case Silver Age is no haphazard add-on to the proceedings:  it's the best album Mould has made since Sugar.  Granted, standout tracks like "The Descent," "Fugue State," and "Keep Believing" are not quite all-time greats from Mould -- he's got a ridiculously consistent history of producing top-notch songs on every album he's ever done -- but the second tier of "Star Machine," "Silver Age," and "First Time Joy" are no slouches either; I've just named six of the ten tracks as excellent or better.  As for the rest, there are no duds here: from front to back it's very good to great.

What also makes this stand apart from, say, District Line and Life and Times is the production.  It's so nice to hear Mould back in a real studio for the first time in 14 years.  The mix makes a HUGE difference, as does the remarked less reliance on auto-tuning.  The "Splenda" lineup (get it?  as opposed to "Sugar?") of Jon Wurster (Superchunk, The Mountain Goats, Spl:t S:ngle) and longtime bandmate Jason Narducy (Verbow, Rockets Over Sweden, Spl:t S:ngle) is just rock solid.  The whole recording has a very live/spontaneous feel to it, as if Mould showed up to the studio and had them learn the songs on the spot.  (And perhaps this is exactly what happened.)

In short, it's the most focused and consistent work Mould has done since 1993, and his best album since 1995.  It's great for longtime fans who've waited for the "next great Bob record" and for general rock fans who want something new to check out.

CD Placement Rating:  Car CD Changer.

- Snilch

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