Friday 12 October 2012

Bob Mould - Silver Age

Album review by KevW

Twenty years on from arguably his finest work, Sugar's 'Copper Blue' album (sorry Hüsker Dü fans), alt-rock legend Bob Mould has decided that, despite its deceiving title, it's about time he put his foot to the floor and unleashed another set of searing powerpop songs. The great man might be in his fifties, but it's not time for sentimental reflection just yet. He made his name kicking up a storm of melodic and ferocious squalls of guitar, second only to Dinosaur Jr.'s, J. Mascis is the wailing six-string assault stakes, but often with better tunes. Every inch of 'Silver Age' is full of beautiful noise, often dispensing with gaps between songs, with each track slamming into the next like an out of control freight train. It's relentless, uncompromising a totally revialising.

It almost seems as though Bob Mould started off recording not with a blank tape, but with one already coated in mild, static electrical feedback; the whole record buzzes and hums and purrs. In less experienced hands this could result in a sludgy drone, but here it's crisp, sharp and alive. It's not easy to fabricate walls of guitar that glitter in such a way, the title of opening track 'Star Machine' says it all and recalls 'Copper Blue' cut 'A Good Idea' in sound. Things really take off as the final bar of this song collides straight into the first chord of single 'Silver Age'. It's here you realise this is going to be a non-stop journey of scuzz-rock thrills. 'The Descent' gives way to 'Briefest Moment' which in turn piles into the majestic 'Steam Of Hercules', all without pausing for breath.

In picking highlights the best plan would be the musical equivalent of closing your eyes and sticking a pin in a map. It's riddled with them. Firstly this means that as a whole the album works brilliantly, and of course this is the best way to experience it. Yet each song holds its own, so if people want to dip in and sample random tracks then they'll still get a good idea of what the record is about. You'd be forgiven for thinking that 'Silver Age' implies second best; it's not quite on a par with any golden age, but that's simply not the case. This album is one of the strongest in Mould's 30-odd year career, so maybe that title implies that better is to come? If so then he'll have to go some to top this. His hair might be silver but his soul is on fire.

Bob Mould's website

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