By Andrew West Griffin
The Norman Transcript
Posted: February 29, 2008
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly two decades since I first heard the sonic wall of sound punk that was the band Husker Du. It was really unlike anything I had heard up to that time. Husker Du -had just imploded a year or so before, and the lead singer-songwriter-guitarist, Bob Mould, released a terrific solo debut in 1989 titled “Workbook.”
I was hooked. His quiet-loud songs that were entirely heartfelt and pure were immediately appealing and exciting. “See A Little Light” would become a minor alternative rock hit. It would be the following solo album, 1990’s “Black Sheets of Rain” that really captured my attention. It’s also a very personal album for me and not for the faint of heart.
Throughout the heady 1990’s, Mould continued to amaze, particularly with his punky power-pop trio Sugar. Their 1992 disc “Copper Blue” is one of the best rock records of all time, my friends. Get. It. Now.
Sugar, sadly, was short-lived. But Mould continued releasing albums that covered a variety of genres; from punk to hard rock to acoustic-oriented alternative music to techno and dance styles.
This time out, Mould is in top form with the superb 10-song album out on Anti- Records called “District Line.”
Our Renaissance man has made a bold and intimate album with “District Line” which is a reference to his life as a musician and artist in Washington, D.C.
Each song is pure Mould. Kicking off with “Stupid Now,” Mould’s frustration with a lover is palpable as he sings-screams over a chugging bass line and Brendan Canty’s curiously irregular drumming. Canty, drummer for Fugazi, was a perfect choice to help propel this record.
Frustration with relationships (or salvaging them or questioning them) are peppered throughout “District Line.” But then this is familiar territory for Mould. This is the guy who wrote the Sugar song “If I Can’t Change Your Mind,” one of the most beautiful songs about unrequited love ever written.
So when you listen to the more straightforward “Who Needs to Dream?” it features more of those familiar themes.
“Again and Again” is one of those Mould songs that stays in your head for days. Warning, this is a dark song, particularly the last verse: “I took the bullets from the carport, tossed them in my backpack / Placed a set of keys inside the grill/ I left the title to the house inside the piano bench / And my lawyer’s got the will.”
And in true Mould fashion, he follows that aforementioned track with a far sunnier, acoustic-rocker called “Old Highs, New Lows,” where his significant other is “flawless.”
The anticipation of a sexual encounter drives “The Silence Between Us,” the album’s first single.
Echoes of Sugar are detected in “Return to Dust” while “Shelter Me” showcases our “Techno-Bob,” that is, the Bob Mould that loves dance music, having a bit of fun amidst an album chock full o’ rock.
Things come full circle on “Walls In Time,” a gorgeous acoustic song that Mould recorded during the sessions for “Workbook.” Here, Mould asks “Is it a crime to want to show your soul?” No, Bob, it isn’t. That’s why we love you.