Bob Mould - Silver Age (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Bob Mould

Silver Age (2012)

Merge Records

With the recent Sugar reissues, it's perhaps little wonder that Bob Mould's latest solo record, Silver Year, would so effortlessly recall Copper Blue and File Under: Easy Listening. Those records were on his mind anyway, and they're super good, so a retread is certainly welcome. Backed by Jason Narducy on bass (Verbow, Spl:t S:ngle) and John Wurster on drums (Superchunk, the Mountain Goats), Mould even recreates the indie rock power trio dynamic that defined Sugar (and Hüsker Dü for that matter).

Given that it's, like, his 18th full-length, Mould doesn't really have anything left to prove, but got-damn does he still rock faces. Silver Age boasts a tight 10 tracks, fat free and thoroughly devastating. Ever the businessman, it totally makes sense that Mould would tour behind this record and the Sugar reissues at the same time; this really is like a lost third Sugar album.

"Star Machine" kicks off the collection with a basic but effective guitar riff, gradually upping the intensity until the chorus explodes. "Star Machine" goes off from the start, recalling a punkier Pixies. At this point, it's just great to hear Mould shred a guitar again. "The Descent" shifts ever so slightly towards a poppier end, but that's what made Sugar so effective. For all the shoegaze and indie rock leanings (r.e. non-commercial), Sugar, and Mould's work in general, still knew how to anchor songs to a pop safety point. For all the dissonance, then and now, there's still a big, throaty chorus and much cleaner singing than one would expect from a punk icon.

Silver Age loses a smidgeon of momentum in its second half, though. It's a direct rock record, which is great, but that also means the songs can blur together at times. And really, "Star Machine" and "The Descent" establish a high bar. Given that Mould's current tour is focused on Copper Blue anyway, one wonders how quickly he ripped through these tunes. All the same, Silver Age maintains its conviction throughout, proving that maybe first drafts were all Mould needed. Either way, he's established yet again why he's such a pivotal figue in underground music.