CD Review of Life and Times by Bob Mould
Bob Mould: Life and Times
Recommended if you like
Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Sugar
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Bob Mould: Life and Times

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

L
ong recognized as one of the forefathers of thrash, a musician whose knack for meshing melody and mayhem left a profound impact on much of the post-punk generation, Bob Mould has always brought a visceral intensity and feisty insurgency into his work with Husker Du, Sugar and his own extensive solo catalog. However, now that he’s approaching the ripe old age of 50, Mould seems to have made a successful transition from the edgy, aggressive upstart stance of his youth to that of a contented but still adventurous artist ready to push his parameters. In recent years he’s taken occasional sabbaticals to write scripts for World Championship Wrestling, to pen a weekly column for an alternative weekly in his hometown of Washington D.C., and to deejay at a popular weekly dance party.

Not surprisingly then, Mould’s last album, District Line, found him more in a more reflective mode, musing about life, relationships and the insights that come with age and experience. Its follow-up, the aptly-titled Life and Times, takes a similarly expansive view via ruminations on life, love and the uncertainty of the world around us. To call it pensive wouldn’t be quite accurate, especially given an artist with his irascibility. But regardless, the honesty and insights Mould exposes create a distinctive impression.

Bob Mould

Mould proves as unflinching as ever in his attitude and outlook, but even in the midst of the fiercest frenzy, the teeming melodies and blazing rhythms find a focus without sacrificing accessibility. The album’s most biting rebuke, the telling "I’m Sorry, Baby, But You Can’t Stand on My Light Any More," becomes an epoch of sorts, a sprawling, melodic surge that proves unusually inviting. "Bad Blood Forever" recounts a liaison with a lover in graphic terms ("The taste of last night’s sex is still in my mouth"), but here too, the mood is studied and subdued. Even the more relentless entries – "City Lights (Days Go By)," "Argos" and "MM17" in particular – manage to maintain their drive and intensity without spinning off into chaos or cacophony.

That’s not to say Mould’s losing his edge – far from it. The title track finds him spewing angst and anguish, while the all-out assault of "Spiraling Down" taps into the malaise implied in its title. Still, these musings are rich with insight and astute commentary, and that makes this Life and Times as riveting as it is resolute.

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