So there’s a new Bob Mould record – his ninth solo set by my reckoning. But does anyone care any more?
Well, the numbers may have dwindled over the last few years but the answer is still yes. And I think that ‘Silver Age’ (out in the States this week but not due over this side of the Pond until next month) will remind a lot of people why.
For one thing it’s Bob’s hardest rocking solo record – ever. Eschewing all but the most limited treatment of the vocals (so prominent on the last four solo records) the first couple of listens blaze past leaving one principal thought – that the guitars are set somewhere between ‘Beaster’ and ‘Black Sheets of Rain’ i.e. blistering.
Subsequent plays though reveal it’s record that doesn’t just rely on power chords – it’s also his strongest set of tunes since ‘Body of Song’. From the get-go ‘Star Machine’ sets a high standard that’s pretty much matched throughout the record.
The recent Sugar reissues and the fact that the record has been recorded as a “scorching trio” have led to the inevitable saccharine comparisons, but in truth there’s more than a little hype about this.
Single ‘The Descent’ has the melodic chops to stand that sort of comparison but there’s actually far less pop in the tunes than on ‘Copper Blue’ and ‘FU:EL’ whilst at the same time ‘Silver Age’ is a more straightforward proposition than ‘Beaster’, with just one intent in life – to rock out. A clue to the directness of the record lies in the thanks in the LP sleeve notes to the entire Foo Fighters family.
However adrenaline soaked the record may be, a perhaps surprising comparison raises its head in that I hear echoes of the much more restrained ‘Hubcap’ on several of the songs. Nowhere is that more evident than on the fantastic LP closer ‘First Time Joy’, the one track that doesn’t start with massive chords. Instead it’s just bass and drums and a few picked chords before gradually ramping up the guitars before the song explodes when it finally reaches its ecstatic chorus.
Bob may sing on the single ‘My descent has just begun’ but to the contrary ‘Silver Age’ in fact continues his creative upswing since career nadir ‘District Line’.
With the rarity of a proper promo video and a recent appearance on Letterman, it feels like there’s a big push behind ‘Silver Age.’ And that’s hardly surprising because this is undoubtedly the type of Bob record that Foo Fighters fans can like but, more importantly, it’s also almost exactly the Bob record that diehard fans have been craving for many, many years.
I posted for the video for the single ‘The Descent’ the other week, so here’s the Letterman performance of the same song: