In another life, Bob Mould could have been Michael Stipe. And Michael Stipe could have been a plumber. And I could have been the Queen of Sheeba… But that’s not important right now. As a member of Husker D� Mould was part of a band who did as much as REM to influence the post punk era of American music, it’s just they didn’t get the same rewards.
But who wants rewards? Ah, don’t bother, rhetorical question. Anyway, at least Husker D� never had to contend with the ravages of time and ever increasing popularity leading to average albums, stadium tours, a steady erosion of the built-up banks of critical acclaim and an itchy sensation between your toes. Unlike REM.
Since those heady days of the 1980s, Bob’s been busy: forming and splitting another band (Sugar), renouncing guitars, adopting Pro-Tools, experimentally noodling and then building a solo career, of which this is the latest release. Body Of Sound finds him back on somewhat more familiar ground (i.e. using guitars), albeit with the added influence of those electronic noodles. It�s fairly mighty stuff, causing many an exclamation of, “Fuck, if he�s this good now, how good was he way back when…”
Admittedly the noodles are occasionally distracting; the vocoder hasn’t been a good idea since well before Cher Believed her way into a million parodies, and doesn’t revive itself here, but songs as good as Circles and Paralyzed are more than strong enough to handle being buried under mountains more unnecessary adornments than that and still sound like superior pieces of punk-pop goodness.
Old rock stars don’t die. They just fade away. Actually, that’s bullshit. Old rockstars die all the time, except for Keith Richards, and hardly ever fade away because they’re such almighty egotists. More frequently they are so desperate to rediscover whatever it was they did before that they just pace back and forth over the same ground – like a dog with a full bladder. But Bob isn’t.
Body Of Song is a genuine attempt from a man who�s been in a few directions and is now trying to gather the good bits from them all. And to that aim it�s pretty much a success. The whole-hearted, riff-edged guitar attack of Husker D�, the simpler acoustic moments of Workbook and the love of technology from Modulate all tie up to form a fine collection of songs from an artist not just remembering his good old days, but intent on creating some new glories.