Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock (2019) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock (2019)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 36:32 minutes | 807 MB | Genre: Alternative Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Merge Records

The cliché that circulated after the 2016 election foretold a new artistic golden age: Artists would transform their anger and anxiety into era-defining works of dissent in the face of authoritarianism. Yet Bob Mould calls his new album Sunshine Rock. It’s not because Mould -whose face belongs on the Mount Rushmore of alternative music—likes the current administration. His decision to “write to the sunshine,” as he describes it, comes from a more personal place – a place found in Berlin, Germany, where he’s spent the majority of the last three years. Here Mould would draw inspiration from the new environments. “Almost four years ago, I made plans for an extended break,” Mould explains. “I started spending time in Berlin in 2015, found an apartment in 2016, and became a resident in 2017. My time in Berlin has been a life changing experience. The winter days are long and dark, but when the sun comes back, all spirits lift.” These three years in Berlin would quite literally shed new light on Mould’s everyday mindset. “To go from [2011 autobiography] See a Little Light to the last three albums, two of which were informed by loss of each parent, respectively, at some point I had to put a Post-It note on my work station and say, ‘Try to think about good things.’ Otherwise I could really go down a long, dark hole,” he says. “I’m trying to keep things brighter these days as a way to stay alive.” That makes Sunshine Rock as logical a product of the current climate as any rage-fuelled agit-rock. Variations on the word “sun” appear 27 times in five different songs over the course of the album’s 37 minutes. To hear Mould tell it, the theme developed early. “Sunshine Rock is one hell of a way to wrap up the busiest decade of my career,” he shares. “The autobiography, the Disney Hall tribute show, reissues of several albums from my catalogue, three current rock band albums, several world tours, and now this new album — I’m humbled and grateful to still be making new music while celebrating my lifetime songbook.”

At the end of the ’90s, Bob Mould declared he was done with guitar-based rock & roll and he was looking for a new focus for his creative impulses. Two decades later, Mould has not only had a dramatic change of heart about that, he’s making some of the best and most powerful rock of his career, while fronting what is arguably the best band he’s ever had. The biggest difference between Mould’s albums from 2012’s Silver Age onward and his iconic work with Hüsker Dü and Sugar is that his songwriting has developed an emotional honesty and personal gravity that, as strong and passionate as his earlier work was, he never quite found before. And in bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster, Mould has discovered an appallingly good rhythm section who can hit hard without losing sight of the melodies, and when they lock in, they’re as tight and sympathetic as anyone could wish. 2019’s Sunshine Rock is Mould’s fourth album with Narducy and Wurster, and on one hand it looks back to past glories, blending the melodic sensibilities and pop shadings of Sugar with the sheer velocity and unrelenting guitars of Hüsker Dü. But with these songs, he is clearly writing in the here and now, often dealing with the challenges of relationships as his 60th birthday becomes faintly visible in the rearview mirror. Mould has never been a stranger to self-doubt, and on songs like “Lost Faith” and “Thirty Dozen Roses,” he bitterly confronts himself for his failings and shows little mercy. For a change, though, he spends much of this album striving to be a better man and appreciating the good things that life and love have given him, and the emotional outreach of “Western Sunset,” “Sunny Love Song,” and the title cut is direct and heartfelt. Mould isn’t always comfortable wearing his heart on his sleeve, but here he’s learned how to make it work, and it’s a welcome surprise. “Camp Sunshine” is a lovely, heartfelt testament to the pure joy of making music and the good fortune he has found in his muse, and “Send Me a Postcard” comes remarkably close to unseating Nirvana’s “Love Buzz” as the best Shocking Blue cover ever, a pure blast of rock & roll ecstasy. Sunshine Rock is the fourth installment in one of the most satisfying chapters of Bob Mould’s career — no small statement considering his legacy — and the tender ferocity of these songs is something no one else could do quite this well. – Mark Deming

1. Sunshine Rock (03:09)
2. What Do You Want Me To Do (02:31)
3. Sunny Love Song (03:01)
4. Thirty Dozen Roses (02:53)
5. The Final Years (03:25)
6. Irrational Poison (02:51)
7. I Fought (02:36)
8. Sin King (03:53)
9. Lost Faith (03:21)
10. Camp Sunshine (03:04)
11. Send Me A Postcard (02:35)
12. Western Sunset (03:20)