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Bob Mould
Patch The Sky Julian Marszalek , April 12th, 2016 20:19

The release of a new Bob Mould album, here in 2016, is akin to receiving a letter from one of your oldest friends, the kind of buddy you spent your formative years with before real life conspired to put decades of experience and responsibility as well as many miles and continents between you. And though it's another dispatch from the dark side of human emotion, Mould possesses an almost unique ability to find affirmation and something resembling resolution without ever resorting to self-pity.

What's also in evidence is how much fun Mould seems to be having, despite the anger and raw emotion that he's wrestling with. Aided and abetted once again by the rhythm section of drummer Jon Wurster and Jason Narducy on bass, Mould has settled back into the power trio configuration that has characterised much of his best work and here he continues mining the groove that started with 2012's The Silver Age and its follow up, Beauty And Ruin.

Patch The Sky is, like much of Mould's output, an album that takes time to reveal itself. On first listen, this is a collection of dense instrumentation and howled angst but repeated listens sees the album expose itself strip by strip and layer by layer as melodies begin to appear like buds in spring but growing into full bloom. He certainly makes you work for the rewards and there's a strange re-assurance to be had that, even after all this time, Mould still refuses to pander or make things easier on his listeners. But then again, that's always been one of Mould's strengths, and he knows that by making his albums more of an active experience on the part of the listener, the greater the investment and rewards.

But even dealing with the weightiest of matters, Mould knows how to apply a lightness of touch. Witness 'Losing Sleep', a rumination on mortality that's tempered with a musical bounce that pretty much nails the absurdity of it all. Similarly, the regret at the heart of 'Hold On' is offset with Mould's innate melodicism and a refusal to keep looking back over his shoulder. His skills as a producer are stamped throughout the album's 12 tracks and, as displayed on tracks such as 'Hands Are Tied' and 'Voices In My Head', he knows when to let loose and when to hold back.

It's good to hear from Bob again. It's good to know that, like you and me, he's swimming hard against the ever increasing tide of shit and still, in the main, coming up smelling of roses and refusing to back down.