Among the pantheon of post-punk rock gods, Bob Mould needs no introduction.
The man’s contributions over the years are well established and his success has clearly afforded him carte blanche with each new release. And although his latest, Body of Song, throws out a few curve balls that will certainly cause some of his die-hard devotees to tilt their heads in confusion, the album as a whole overcomes its fleeting shortcomings.
Fair warning – if you’re not a fan of the vocoder vocal tricks that folks like Madonna and Cher have popularized in recent years, some tracks are going to work your last nerve. “(Shine Your) Light Love Hope” is without a doubt a catchy dance trick that relies on said vocal chicanery, but even allowing Mould’s most poppy moments, it will likely turn off a purist or two.
Mould’s guilty pleasures aside, the lion’s share of Body of Song blends the very best elements of Hüsker Dü, Sugar and previous solo efforts. Replete with all the right elements of pop, the guitar work we’ve come to know and love, and Mould melodies that never rest on their laurels, the 12-track disc navigates through various tempos and moods but maintains a steady target heart rate.
Opening cut “Circles” does the one thing that so many artists have lost sight of over the years – launching an album with a proper and compelling introduction. And although it takes a somewhat uncanny detour with Light Love Hope, the disc gets right back on track with “Paralyzed,” a classic, guitar-driven track that Mould fans will immediately adopt.
Among the other standouts are “Underneath Days,” “Best Thing,” “High Fidelity,” and “Gauze of Friendship,” an acoustic foot-tapper that wins points for its raspy and meandering melodies and emotive hooks.
Body of Song will be officially released July 26, after which Mould will kick off an extensive tour that will include a set list that spans his long career.