“Life and Times” Bob Mould

Bob Mould
“Life and Times”
Anti Records

RATING: 6

My biggest complaint with Hüsker Dü has always been the quality of their recordings.  If “New Day Rising” were to come out today it would probably be embraced by the lo-fi scene, but I’m pretty sure the gritty sound was completely unintentional back in the 80s punk scene.  I’m still waiting for the day Bob Mould, Grant Hart, and Greg Norton decide to re-master their classics like their Minneapolis brother’s The Replacements did last year, but for now it seems Hart and Mould are keeping busy with their solo careers.

Mould’s latest solo offering, “Life and Times”, is nothing like the work of his former band. Oh sure, the songs still contain Mould’s signature brooding lyrics and catchy hooks, but the quality is far from the northern lo-fi sound of Hüsker Dü. Unfortunately, Mould tipped the scales a tad too far in the opposite direction.  For the majority of the album, Mould relys upon an auto-pitch, ensuring that he’s hitting the right notes (think Britney Spears). The casio-like vocal-tone surfaces again and again on high notes within the music, cheapening solid song after solid song.  Mould still has the knack for writing intelligent pop songs, but I’m beginning to wonder if maybe his voice can no longer meet the demands of his songwriting craft.

Only on a few tunes does he forgo the T.I. like voice, and his rasp returns, sounding weak and weary.  While the photos on the packaging show Mould looking strong and powerful like “Iron Man” villain Obadiah Stane, it’s obvious within the music that Mould and his voice have seen better days. Which makes me wonder: what has happened to the poor old fella since his 1998 release “The Last Dog and Pony Show”, a masterful combination of folk and punk, combining the harshness of Husker Du with the syrupy sweeet melodies of Sugar.    From there Mould moved away from the familiarity, releasing two electronica albums which were panned by critics. Many are calling “Life and Times” Mould’s return to his roots, but I don’t remember Mould’s roots ever sounding so produced.

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