Bob Mould has been doing the whole music thing for quite some time now. From pioneers Hüsker Dü to Sugar to his more recent solo efforts, the man just keeps on making music. Always held in high regard for his prowess as a songwriter and guitarist alike, Mould more than impresses with Body Of Song .
Off the heels of the ambitious but overwhelmingly disappointing venture into electronic music known as Modulate, this album serves as Mould’s return to rock, and it would be in everyone’s best interests to pay attention.
Most engaging with this recent effort of Mould’s isn’t just the airtight songwriting, but also the level of versatility that the album presents. Mould has seemingly touched all bases with this release, and fans of a variety of styles will find things to like within the album. The electronic stylings of Modulate have not completely vanished, but this time around they’re used sparsely, and even then they come accompanied with the familiar sound of the electric guitar to balance out ambient echoes and processed vocals. “(Shine Your) Love Light Hope” is one such example, and though the variety is appreciated, Mould’s talents are clearly not best lent to that style of music. Mould shines the absolute brightest when he’s able to let loose on guitar, and really show some power.
Mould has always had an extremely strong voice, and this album makes no exceptions, as “Paralyzed” would attest to. Reminding a lot of Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin in parts, Mould is by no means copying his style, instead offering his own take on things, and he’s never sounded better. The powerful chorus accentuates everything that makes Mould such a solid songwriter. He knows how to play off his strength, and get all the sincerity and talent possible into everything that he’s doing. The rhythms are undeniably strong and fluid, as is the musicianship between the bassist and drummer that assist on the record. While he still knows how to let out his rocking side, some of the better moments can also be found in a very low-key manner.
”Days Of Rain” presents a much more somber, more airy vocal style than on the more rock-infused tunes, but there’s no underselling just how good the change of pace is. Mould’s unsettling desperation gives the lyrical content, dealing mostly with hope, confusion, and relationships gone awry, fortunately all dealt with in a very adult manner, some gravity. You can almost feel the bitterness and resentment in some of these songs, and unlike cheap angst, that’s not something that can be faked.
Everything done on this album exhibits strength. Strength in songwriting, strength in voice, and strength in the stories being told, all coupled with absolute top notch guitar work completing the package on this eclectic bunch of songs. Sure, there’s still bound to be some complaints about the song or two that still caters to fans of electronic music, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell me anything here is contrived. Mould’s unwavering and genuine sentiments carry through any type of music, transcending any pigeonholes and handing out one hell of an effort. Whether you liked Hüsker Dü or not, whether you liked Sugar or any of the solo efforts to follow, Body Of Song gives meaning to the adage about some things getting better with age. At any juncture in life, the guitar work that finishes out the album by way of “Beating Heart The Prize” is something to be remembered, and something to be appreciated. He hasn’t lost a step.