Album #258: Bob Mould – Blue Hearts

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Malone, New York, USA
  • Label: Merge
  • Best Track: Next Generation

I’ve never really managed to love Hüsker Dü, save for a few songs, but I’m a big fan of Bob Mould’s solo work. It just seems a bit more catchy and easy to get into, as shallow as that might sound.

His 14th solo album Blue Hearts dropped on Friday, hot on the heels of his excellent last one Sunshine Rock, which I can’t believe was released over a year and a half ago. It’s his usual mix of catchy riffs, earnest vocals and reflective, thought-provoking lyrics that are more pertinent than ever in these deeply troubled times.

The album opens with a tragically relatable song in ‘Heart on My Sleeve’ about confusion and futility, and this is continued on ‘American Crisis’ where Mould bemoans the US not learning from its history (“I never thought I’d see this bullshit again/To come of age in the ’80s was bad enough”). I think it’s fair to assume that Mould won’t be getting behind the great orange twatbag in the upcoming election, but he doesn’t exactly nail is colours to the mast, more denouncing the tone of political discourse than any particular ideology.

You can’t go wrong with those fast-paced bangers like ‘Next Generation’, ‘Racing to the End’ and ‘Baby Needs a Cookie’. Lyrically, these songs are often sad and weary, but something about them makes you feel uplifted and alive. Slightly slower and grittier highlights include ‘Forecast of Rain’ and ‘Leather Dreams’

A harsh critic might call the album “samey”, but with his vocals and hooks being so distinctive and instantly recognisable, he earns the right to milk them. Turning 60 in a couple of weeks, it’s great to see Bob Mould still has so much energy and work ethic.

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