This is how Bob Mould described the sound of his old band, Hüsker Dü, in his 2011 autobiography “See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody”:
“[I]t sounded like my head was being riddled with pellets of ice . . . like being locked in the trunk of a car during a massive hailstorm.”
(Courtesy of Merge Records) - Cover art for Bob Mould’s album “Silver Age”
It’s also a freakishly apt description of “Silver Age,” Mould’s first post-memoir release and his most thunderous, unrelenting and immensely satisfying new album in decades.
“Silver Age” packs the visceral punch of prime Hüsker Dü, the sugar rush hooks of Mould’s early-’90s albums with Sugar and the introspection of his underrated solo work. Significantly, it arrives after the singer toured with the Foo Fighters, whose own albums owe a great debt to Mould’s post-Hüsker output. “Silver Age” is a reclamation project, in which Mould retrieves his sound from years of releases that were cranky, virtuous and mild.
These are smart, solid, well-crafted songs, propulsive and fast. Everything sounds pretty much the same, though the lyrics are tender and lecture-y in turn, with Mould giving the obligatory criticism of fame in “Star Machine” (pro-fame songs are for suckers, and Maroon 5) and revisiting his childhood in the musical memoir extension “Briefest Moment.”
The greatest thing about “Silver Age,” besides the fact that it exists, and there’s not a bad song on it, is that it’s the sort of album veterans like the now-51-year-old Mould usually don’t make anymore. After too many years gone, too many acoustic solo albums or Disney soundtracks or TV theme songs, most people give up hope; most of Mould’s contemporaries, like Paul Westerberg, say, were written off years ago. The real Return To Form is vanishingly rare. Which means that “Silver Age” isn’t just one of the great rock records of the year. It’s like seeing a ghost.
— Allison Stewart
“The Descent,” “Briefest Moment”