From his early days as one of the singer-songwriters for punk-pop legends HÃ‚Â�sker DÃ‚Â�, to his years as a solo artist and his tenure as frontman for Sugar, Bob Mould has never been one to stay in one place for too long. For his latest album - Modulate
- he uses samplers and synthesizers as his primary tools of writing.
The first six tracks may startle longtime Mould fans who are unaccustomed to hearing him without guitars or actual drums; songs like "Sunset Safety Glass" and "Semper Fi" are awash in swooping digitized string patterns. It isn't until midway through the album, on "Slay/Sway" and "The Receipt," that the familiar driving guitar patterns emerge. From there, it's more of Mould's usual catchy, punchy songcraft, with "SoundonSound" being a particular standout.
Listening to this album, one is reminded of Pete Townshend's solo albums from the early eighties ("Quasar" could be an outtake from Townshend's "Empty Glass"), and lyrically, this is some of Mould's best work; "Slay/Sway" is a feverish, psychedelic remembrance of Mould's teen years, while "Semper Fi" and "Lost Zoloft" detail romances and relationships gone sour. The quirky hard-luck characters of "SoundonSound" ("She's pulling the weeds up slowly/He's picking the pennies from her vest") will seem like old friends to HÃ‚Â�sker DÃ‚Â� fans. Mould says that using electronic tools forced him to "relearn the process of composition" and gave him "a new set of tones, colors, and processes with which to create pop songs." As a result, his music has a refreshed, invigorated feel, and shouldn't scare away any of his old fans, who by now should be used to challenges from this challenging artist.
- Peter J. MacDonald, CFMH Radio, Saint John, NB
By Peter J. MacDonald
Jul 8, 2002