"Silver Age" by Bob Mould
By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
Posted: October 30, 2012
CD REVIEW: Bob Mould – Silver Age (Merge Records) 2012
Earlier this year, Red Dirt Report offered up a review of Bob Mould’s fascinating autobiography See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody. As noted, the book was written by the openly-gay singer-songwriter in a “breezy, conversational and easy-to-read way.” We also noted that Mould’s music – solo, with Husker Du and with Sugar – is “in your face, honest, often-melodic and has an undeniable staying power.”
Such is the case with Mould’s recently released solo disc Silver Age. Mould loves a power trio, as he had with his legendary bands and solo line-ups. This time, he has bassist Jason Narducy and Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster on board. And they are a force to be reckoned with. On the opener “Star Machine” it is classic, punchy Bob Mould, as is the song that follows – the title track “Silver Age” with its passionate energy and line: “Never too old to contain my rage / the silver age, the silver age.”
Interestingly, this is the 20th anniversary of Sugar’s classic album Copper Blue. In fact, not only is Mould touring in support of Silver Age, but he’s also performing the Copper Blue as well in certain communities. Copper? Silver? Hmm. I see an elemental trend.
Anyway, back to the review. On “The Descent” Mould’s power chords and song structure brings to mind the 90’s Sugar and Workbook-era solo material. Melodic and punk-ified. So, is Mould looking back, rather than forward? Not necessarily. He is taking the best of his past work and lyrically matching it with where he is now. There is a romanticism to “Steam of Hercules” as Wurster strikes those drum heads as if his life depended on it. “We sail against the storm / From mountains through the seas / The sandy beach collapsing from / The steam of Hercules.”
Tracks like “Fugue State” show a vulnerable man, seemingly lost, sharing it with anyone who will listen. And “Angels Rearrange” –another 90’s-esque throwback with backbone - shows a man in a relationship finally realizing that change can be good. Mould’s guitar, of course, is muscular and unforgiving amidst the sentiments shared in the song.
The album ends strong with “First Time Joy,” a quieter song (reminiscent of Superchunk in sections, in fact) with a verse that goes: “I wrap my heart in words you say / But all we cherish will decay / First time joy and last time pain / Here we go again.”
This is smart rock for the above-30 crowd and those who grew up with 52-year-old Mould’s cathartic brand of power-pop and acerbic rock. While we definitely dug District Line nearly five years ago, Silver Age proves that Bob Mould still has a lot of rock energy left and a lot left to say.
Copyright 2012 Red Dirt Report