A few short years ago I thought Beauty & Ruin was one of the best things Bob Mould had ever done – and I’d hope that was saying something given the bands he made and played in ahead of his busy-enough, solid-af solo career.
And now Sunshine Rock – which is, as the title suggests, sunnier, and features (even more) rock. But it’s recongisably Bob Mould just doing what he does. Which is what we want. A baker’s dozen of solo albums and all the great Sugar and Husker material too. It’s an embarrassment of riches really.
And Sunshine Rock has him fighting fit and out the other side of wrestling with, well, whatever late middle-age might have thrown at him. The memoir is done, the big quarter-century of his debut solo album has been and gone and was marked with an expanded edition as is the way, and maybe the death of his erstwhile band-mate and writing/sparring partner/competitor has factored into some of these new songs (certainly feels like it with The Final Years).
The glue here – as has been the case across the last few solo albums, everything since 2012’s Silver Age – is the rhythm section of Jason Narducy (bass) and Jon Wurster (drums), aka the bottom end of Superchunk. The glue, too, is in Mould doing what he does best, fronting a power-trio.
Songs that never overstay their welcome, guitar solos – or bursts of guitar-solo flavour – within the songs that also never overstay their welcome. And just the right kind of anger or invective that never feels false or phoned in.
It’s impossible, too, to not think of Mould’s songs now (and always) as both the antecedent of and antidote for anything by Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters.
Sunshine Rock is a bit of a resetting of the rage. There’s moments of quiet(er) contemplation here (Sin King) but those big crunching power-pop mini-epics still burst forth (I Fought) and you get reminders of Sugar (Irrational Poison) and especially this time some Husker Du (Send Me A Postcard).
Long live Bob Mould!
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