Bob Mould, ‘Silver Age’ – Album Review
Bob Mould has made a return to form — one that, in a way, is devoid of comeback-circuit cliché. ‘Silver Age,’ his newest solo release, feels like a continuation of his Husker Du thrashings, to the point that there should be no discussion of a comeback — he never left.
As Mould explained in a recent interview, ‘Silver Age’ is a follow-up of sorts to ‘See a Little Light: A Trail of Rage and Melody,’ the memoir he released last year. Contra to all that “wordy stuff of writing a book,’ the new album is pure force and hungry id. Having put down the author’s pen, Mould sings with a voice that is less a lyrical vehicle than an instrument — a punk growl that, in classic power-trio form, speeds along with bass playing of touring bandmate Jason Narducy and drums of Superchunk’s Jon Wurster.
The resulting 38 minutes is one wall of sound after another, from the fame indictment of ‘Star Machine’ to the urban pride of ‘Round the City Square.’ The title track addresses aging and discontent, with Mould snarling, “Never too old to contain my rage” — just the thing you’d love to hear from a 51-year-old rocker. The roughness is given proper gloss in ‘The Descent,’ a harmony-rich album highlight on which Mould laments a world in descent — that’s about as optimistic as he gets.
Though Mould is getting into Elder Stateman territory — Husker Du formed in 1979, while his second act, the power-pop group Sugar, made its debut two decades ago — he continues to grow. The freshest influences here are his former disciples the Foo Fighters, who Mould opened for on a 2011 tour. He takes a Dave Grohl-esque stadium-filling power-ballad angle on ‘Stream of Hercules,’ a break for mellowness among all the three-chord punk.
As angry as it is measured, ‘Silver Age’ is a surgical strike from one of indie rock’s most enduring icons. You could call all this a lovely story, but a better word for what Mould does might be badass.