Bob Mould

When long-feuding Hüsker Dü vets Bob Mould and Grant Hart took to a Minneapolis stage together this past October to play two of their old band's songs during a benefit concert, mouths began drooling at the prospect of the Hüskers joining the big reunion party already attended by numerous seminal Seventies and Eighties altrock groups such as the Pixies and Gang of Four. Those hopes were quickly dashed when Hart renewed his warring ways in the current issue of Magnet, commenting, "I don't have people knocking on my door to release the next Grant Hart record, but at least I haven't put out a number of lousy ones. I think people realize Bob has lost it...."

Call Hart's brickbats sour grapes if you like, but even the most ardent Mould fan might cop to such a concern these days, especially after Mould released the full-bore electronica album Modulate in 2002. For some, Mould was in dire need of something -- even a Hüskers reunion -- to get him back on track. While it's difficult to fault the guy for trying something different to shake up his creative ennui, it's immensely gratifying to report that Mould reverts back to his strengths on his fine new Body of Song, swapping club-happy synthetics for a straightforward six-string rock attack.

Well, mostly. Two of the album's first four tracks proudly display a lingering fondness for the vocoder; on "(Shine Your) Light Love Hope," Mould's digitally sweetened voice peers over a blurry wall of guitar distortion and a disco-house beat provided by Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty (who appears on eight of the disc's twelve songs). Unsurprisingly, though, it's the rawer, more despondent songs that really hit the bull's-eye: Opener "Circles" surrounds Mould's gravelly ruminations about aging and loss with a thicket of guitar growls; "Best Thing," with its regret-laden lyrics cloaked in pop-grunge crunch, would have fit nicely on Sugar's Copper Blue; and "Missing You" is so reminiscent of late-era Hüsker Dü that one almost expects to hear Hart's vocals rounding out the harmonies. And though it's fascinating that the most Hüskersesque number should contain lines like "Missing you I turned into a wreck/You don't know how bad I want you back," it's probably wise not to read too much into them. After all, Body of Song proves Mould is still mighty capable of making it on his own.

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Michael Alan Goldberg