What if both your parents died the same year? And what if that same year your home, which has been in the family for over 100 years, burns down? And what if while you’re dealing with all this loss, your former band mate (Bob Mould) releases a tell all autobiography where he not only persecutes you and embellishes your use of heroin, but he also takes time to mock your now dead mother?
And what if you were once friends with William S. Burroughs? And what if while you are dealing with all this turmoil, you are bestowed with an unfinished Burroughs space odyssey adaptation of Milton’s Paradise Lost called Lost Paradise? And what if this manuscript inspires you to create a 20-song album about the battle between Heaven and Hell?
That would be pretty awesome, right?
“Life and Times”
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.