Just 19 months on from the comparatively upbeat Sunshine Rock, Bob Mould returns with a complete 180 degree turn for his latest album. The positive vibes of the predecessor didn’t translate into an album that particularly resonated, but it’s still strange to follow it up so quickly!
The album starts with something of a red herring, the acoustic Heart On My Sleeve, by some distance the quietest thing here. This is completely dispelled by Next Generation which bursts out of the speakers with heavy rocking guitars and pounding drums, over which Mould spits out the lyrics. It’s done and dusted in two minutes or so, in common with many of the songs here. Many of them follow this formula, Fireball, Siberian Butterfly and the extremely accurately titled Racing To The End fly by at breakneck speed, gone before you know it! On the other hand, American Crisis feels like a centrepiece. Opening with a scream from Mould, he roars out lyrics about “welcome back to American crisis”…. “ringing in my head never goes away… AAAAHHHH!!!” over bludgeoning guitars before leading into the pounding “free speech, free speech got stolen by a pack of thieves”. No prizes for guessing who he’s singing about.
When he dials it down it works pretty well. Forecast of Rain strummed guitars and keyboards will remind fans of Sugar’s Hoover Dam, while hard-riffing, heavy rockers like When You Left, Everyth!ng To You and Little Pieces put the POWER back into power pop. Elsewhere Baby Needs A Cookie swaggers along on crunchy guitars, and Leather Dreams almost grooves. On recent albums, the final track has been one to return to again and again. Here, The Ocean is a lumbering strum, like a heavy-handed Low song, building halfway through to some scorching guitar work from Mould before ending with elongated feedback. It’s very pleasing.
It’s not really anything new from Bob Mould, but it will certainly please the faithful. No sign of him slowing down as he approaches 60, this is a powerful rock album with the energy of someone half his age
1. Heart On My Sleeve
2. Next Generation
3. American Crisis
5. Forecast of Rain
6. When You Left
7. Siberian Butterfly
8. Everyth!ng To You