Just look at that sleeve. Bob Mould is obviously in a better place than where he was around the time of his 1990 album Black Sheets of Rain. But there's a point to the all the happiness. Bob is content in Berlin and instead of a raging anti- US administration album as you might expect, he's celebrating the good things in life as a means to stay alive during these dark years.
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Old rockers never die, their production values just get bigger and bigger as they seek to prove they can still be loud and edgy. Sometimes this works with aplomb. Kristin Hersh's recent 'Possible Dust Clouds' was a superb example of how to be loud and edgy without embarrassing yourself. The recent Guided By Voices album on the other hand is an example of how to be loud in order to shield the fact that you can't write decent songs anymore.
Bob Mould's latest album is powered to the max - mastered to within an inch of its life - nothing Mould hasn't done before - his Sugar band were one of the loudest I've ever seen but you do have to have the songs to match. It takes four tracks for Mould to get into his stride here. The opening title track is an awful overblown piece of bluster with huge strings plonked clumsily on top of his buzzsaw guitars, the following tracks whizz by like a hurricane before Thirty Dozen Roses finally reveals a bit of his energetic magic with a billion guitar chords chopping and changing, a great melody and one of those ones he comes with that just shows the merest trace of the Beatles.
Having got all that out of his system, Mould calms slightly on the Smashing Pumpkins ish atmospheric rock of the Final Years. A nice piece of 90s synth inflected melancholy that serves as an ear break from the barrage elsewhere. Mould has said that this album is an attempt to create something joyful and upbeat amidst the chaos of the modern world. On the opening tracks he appears to be trying too hard but as it settles you end up with sort of what you expect. A loud and raucous album that hints at the greatness of past work whilst feeling fresh as well as confirming that this artist is in no way past his best.
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