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Silver Age is a return to pure, flat-out rock for Bob Mould. There is no resemblence to Hüsker Dü. Believe it or not, that’s just fine. It does, however, sound like the great album Sugar didn’t make. Mould’s career has always seemed to me to be strangely attuned to that of Frank Black. Both started amazing bands (Hüsker Dü and Pixies), embarked on solo careers, picked up backing bands (Sugar, The Catholics) along the way; only to make left turns as they resumed their solo careers. Now, Black has reclaimed his Pixies moniker of Black Francis and channeled that persona to write in his old madcap mindset, while informed by all the different genres he’s dabbled in. This is where their paths diverge. Mould is undoubtedly wiser than his early rocking self (learning a lot about himself in the course of writing his memoir See A Little Light) but he has eschewed his acoustic numbers and electronic influences altogether to make Silver Age. The album is primal, energetic, and without studio additives. It is also, undoubtedly, his most exciting solo work and, perhaps, his best.
From opening track, “Star Machine” to the excellent single “The Descent” through to its final wind down in “First Time Joy”, the album can’t help but bring Mould loyalists pride in their perseverance. Through all the mocking the may have endured through the electronic age of Mould, their vigilance is vindicated. This release need not over-analysis. It just demands to be heard. Mould has once again given us some Sugar, baby.
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