In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “His knack for catchy vocal melodies over roaring rock instruments is as strong as ever.”
From noise punk to melodious punk in the 80s with his band Husker Du, to 90s angst with his band Sugar, to weird tangents dabbling in electronica and writing wrestling storylines for the WWE, Bob Mould is one of music’s great journeyman. He’s lasted all of this time because he doesn’t adapt to or chase styles, as much as he just plunges head first into his own thing, which generally just happens to be leading the way in cool. And here we are, three albums into his latest phase, as he once again teams up with drummer Jon Wurster and bass player Jason Narducy, Patch the Sky.
Like Silver Age and Beauty and Ruin before it, Patch the Sky is all about guitar lead, three piece rock and roll, nothing more, nothing less. Playing lead riffs and steady chords at the same time, that distinct Mould guitar sound is on perfect display on Voices in My Head and The End of Things.
When I saw Mould live a few years ago, I was fascinated by Wurtser’s drumming style. He keeps it simple, but also looks like he’s trying to break his kit with each devastating stroke. All the while never overwhelming the song. Hearing his driving, hard hitting backbone on Hold On immediately brought memories of that live show back into my head. Mould has a great voice, but it’s not a typical rock and troll voice. He can go big, but tends to hold back. Which means there needs to be a very specific mix between his blistering guitar and the rhythm section so he’s never overpowered. Songs like Hold On and You Say You show that symbiosis at its best.
In his mid 50s, Patch the Sky shows that Mould has no interest in slowing down. Pray for Rain is as vibrant as anything he made under the Sugar banner in the 90s. While Lucifer and God is a little plodding compared to the tightness of the rest of this record, Daddy’s Favourite and the relentless punk rock Hands Are Tied show that his knack for catchy vocal melodies over roaring rock instruments is as strong as ever.