Monday, March 21, 2016

A Few Words About Patch The Sky, The New Bob Mould Album, Out Friday On Merge

There's really no reason to waste a lot of words of praise on the new Bob Mould. A reviewer could just have a big graphic of a massive thumb pointing up for every Mould release, you know? This new album is no difference from that pattern. Patch The Sky, like most of the stuff that this guy has been a part of from Husker Du to Sugar and onward, is a thing of simple beauty and stark immediacy. Mould, joined by Jon Wurster (Superchunk) on drums and Jason Narducy (Split Single, Superchunk) on bass, offers up here cuts that are full of fire and basic chords. Volume takes the place of anything approaching an unnecessary bit of filigree and one can only marvel -- again -- at the skills of Mould in crafting stuff that hits a listener in the chest with such wonderfully direct force. Fans of Beauty And Ruin (2014) should note that Patch The Sky (2016) is more from the same template...only louder. Much louder.

"Voices In My Head" and "The End Of Things" are catchy riff-rockers of the highest order, while "Hold On" shows Bob to be the reigning master of the upbeat hook; like the straight edge legends of his adopted hometown of Washington, D.C., Mould makes punk of a sort that is big on affirmation and not negation. Throughout his career, from "Something I Learned Today", and on to "These Important Years", and up to these tracks, he's dispatched a sort of positive rock that almost none of his peers can touch. And I'm sure that I'm not the only fan of my generation to say that those Husker Du songs nearly saved my life when I was younger. There was something human there that was more than just anger, or blind rage, at the adult world. And I should probably thank Bob Mould for writing like that then, with such a distinct voice, for so many years after.

For catchy appeal, it would be hard to top "You Say You" here, while "Losing Sleep" offers up a bit of a slow-burn before "Pray For Rain" ramps up things again. Elsewhere, "Hands Are Tied" roars like early Superchunk, or mid-period Husker Du, as does "Losing Time" elsewhere on this record. Patch The Sky hits a sort of emotional peak on the closer, the slow-climbing "Monument", the longest cut on Patch The Sky, and the one track that seems more expansive and contemplative than the other 11 cuts here.

There's not a single misstep on Patch The Sky and that's what makes this such a gift to fans. Rather than try to venture off into territory ill-suited to his talents, Mould has simply refined and sharpened his. Now knife-like, his skills can do more with 3 players and a clutch of chords than other bands can do with 5 players and a string section, for instance. Quite possibly one of his best solo records, and certainly the equal in spots of some of the Sugar releases, Patch The Sky is a marvelous collection of new material. Fans of Flip Your Wig (1985) -- the song and the album -- are sure to love this as much as I did.

Patch The Sky by Bob Mould is out on Friday via Merge Records. Follow Bob Mould via his official Facebook page.