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CD Reviews: Review of Body of Song by Bob Mould
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Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Bob Mould: Body of Song (Yep Roc 2005)

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You have to give Bob Mould credit; he’s not afraid to walk his own path.

After departing Husker Du in the late ‘80s, he went from cranking out loud, dense pop songs to performing introspective, acoustic material on his solo debut, Workbook. Since then, his music has been all over the place, with highlights including the debut album by his new band, Sugar, as well as his self-titled album of 1996, both released on Rykodisc. He even took a break from ’98 to 2002, spending 1999 and 2000 – and this definitely a “strange but true” factoid here – writing scripts for the WCW (World Championship Wrestling).

And, yet, as strange as the latter entry of his resume might sound, it wasn’t nearly as odd as Mould’s 2002 return to recording, Modulate, an album which found him discovering his inner Pet Shop Boy and experimenting with sequencers, vocoders, and all facets of computerized, electronic music. Despite a few interesting results, the album is best described as a noble failure, but, as ever, it found Mould unafraid to take chances with his music.

2005 brings us Mould’s Yep Roc Records debut, Body of Song...not a greatest-hits, as its name might suggest, but a new studio album that manages to incorporate most stylistic facets of his career to date. Opener “Circles” is appropriately titled, as it feels almost like Mould has come full circle, sounding as much like Husker Du as anything he’s done in a decade. Anyone who breathes a sigh of relief at this point, however, is doing so prematurely; the departure Mould took to the world of electronic pop is still a direction into which he remains unafraid to swerve, as evidenced as quickly as on the second song, “(Shine Your) Light Love Hope,” where he breaks out his vocoder once more. When the third song, “Paralyzed,” rolls around, however, it’s like the return of Sugar, where Mould puts as much power into a pop song as he did on “Your Favorite Thing”...but there’s something different about it. After a few listens, you realize that what Mould’s done is take his interest in the electronic sound and blend it almost seamlessly with his tremendous ability to write guitar-pop. He performs the same trick on “I Am Vision, I Am Sound,” with similarly successful results.

It’s not all about computers, though. “Gauze of Friendship” and “High Fidelity” (not the Elvis Costello song) are both instantly reminiscent in feel of Workbook, much as “Days of Rain” is reminiscent – perhaps not coincidentally, given the similarity in their titles – to Black Sheets of Rain, with its use of strings. “Best Thing” and “Missing You,” meanwhile, are pure Sugar, with no electronic adjustments required.

Body of Song may not be the best album that Bob Mould has released in his time, but it finds him back on a track that his fans are far more likely to follow him down, that happy medium where he’s able to do what he wants without sacrificing the familiar feel of his past work.

~Will Harris 


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