When a mate of mine, who is something of a self confessed Hüsker Dü obsessive thrusts the new album by the band's erstwhile singer/guitarist into my hand proclaiming it to be "his best work in decades" you'll hopefully understand why I suddenly sit up and listen. That's because here is a man who has followed the band long before he first encountered them live back in 1985 at Newport's legendary Stow Hill Labour Club, and he pretty much knows everything there is to know about Bob Mould, Grant Hart and Greg Norton. So forgive me, but I'll listen to what he has to say about this latest solo album from Mr. Mould over any of the many normally empty boasts that get broadcast in the mainstream music papers on an almost a weekly basis.
So does 'Silver Age' really live up to this bold statement of being Mould's best work in decades?
Well most definitely - and I will say right here that this is it not just Mould's best album in decades (well his best since Sugar's 'Copper Blue' at least) but it is also a astounding piece of work that ranks right up there with the very best albums of 2012.
The ten tunes that make up this Mould's tenth solo studio album immediately bring to mind a time when the U.S. produced bands like Green On Red, The Replacements, The Smithereens, REM and of course Hüsker Dü like shelling college rock radio peas, and just like the classic albums from that era 'Silver Age' is produced with maximum rock n roll efficiency clocking in at around about 35 minutes in total length.
You like the sound of this so far?
Well in that case take one listen to the album's lead single 'The Descent' and this should be enough to fully convince you that you need to invest in this album, one of the most exhilarating musical experiences you will have in 2012. Then when you do get to finally drop 'Silver Age' into your player our onto your turntable you certainly better watch out, as each of the ten tracks segue into one another, and once you are in the hands of Mould and Co (his touring band of drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy really do excel here too) via the staccato rifferama of 'Silver Bird' there really is no escaping the hooks.
If I had to pick out my personal high points then it would be the epic 'Fugue State' and album closer 'First Time Joy', largely because on these tunes Mould uses his voice in a lower register so when the choruses do hit they simply send shivers down your spine. In fact on the latter is that just a hint of latter day Steve Jones I hear creeping into the vocal line?
Perhaps the only slight reservation I have with 'Silver Age' is any potential new listeners to this album might just immediately think, "Oh he's ripping the Foo Fighters off" due in part perhaps to Mould having guested on that band's 'Wasting Light' album. So for those of you reading this that think this might apply to you take it from me when I say "if your fave Foo Fighters album is 'Colour And Shape' you will think 'Silver Age' is the best thing you have heard since 1997." Of course for those of us who actually remember the 80's we will already understand exactly where Mr. Grohl acquired a lot of their stadium rock sensibilities from, this shouldn't be a problem for us at all.
I suppose the lesson behind all of this is when a mate pushes a disc your way and declares it to be an album you must listen to, you really shouldn't ignore them, because you might just have a stunning piece of music waiting to greet you.