Bob Mould continues his exploration of dark times and heavy hearts.
Bob Mould continues his exploration of dark times and heavy hearts with Patch the Sky, a series of energetic tracks that stand in stark contrast to their weighty themes. Joined by his longtime rhythm section of drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy, Mould continues to create a wall of loud guitars that blaze and burn from one end to the other.
Mould has said that the record was born from loss: death and the end of at least one relationship, a buffet of tumult. Just as he did after the breakup of Hüsker Dü, Mould retreated to the solitary life, writing on his own and meditating on what he’d gone through and where he was going next. This time however, he didn’t turn down for anything.
You won’t need a secret decoder ring to figure out what “Losing Time,” “Daddy’s Favorite” or “The End of Things” are about. However, some of the musical choices are surprising. Make no mistake, this still sounds like Mould but “Daddy’s Favorite” carries a groove that calls to mind a more accomplished KISS married to the former Sugar man’s best pop hook sensibilities. Of course, Paul Stanley and Co. could never hang onto a song with the same kind of commitment or fearlessness.
One of Mould’s greatest achievements has always been how well he’s masked influences. He didn’t entirely spring from nowhere, of course, but aside from hints of bubblegum and an obvious nod here or there to early buzz saw punk, you’d be hard pressed to traces the roots and branches of the former Minnesotan’s sound. In recent years the only influence one seems to be able to detect in the artist’s work is himself.
No doubt some will latch on to the brilliant energy of the 1:46 blast “Hands Are Tied” and call it a return to Hüsker Dü. But the 20-something Mould wasn’t writing songs with same kind of sophistication or prowess back then. Nor was has he been capable of mining the same emotional depths of “Black Confetti” in quite the same way before.
This is a solid Mould album, one that doesn’t break new ground but also doesn’t wear down the same ground the artist has visited many, many times before. It’s a consistency that is respectable but also one that might be disappointing for some, especially those who’ve come to expect that Mould will one day give us a record that’s high class and unforgettable as Workbook, Black Sheets of Rain or even Body of Song. That might happen.