It's odd listening to a new Bob Mould record in 2019. Particularly as that record, the freshly launched Sunshine Rock, is so clearly and faithfully sculpted on the template of great Bob Mould records of yesteryear, And that yesteryear, now the best part of thirty years and more behind us.
Sunshine Rock is first and foremost, a very well made album. Twelve well written, well played, well sung and well produced Alternative Rock songs that sound as if Mould has found his way out of the gloom that has long been his personal cross to bear onto a pleasant sunlit plain.
Sun is the operative word. It's all over the song titles and lyric sheet of the album. A thinly veiled metaphor for the man finding some personal calm and fulfilment. Mould has relocated to Berlin in the last couple of years and judging by recent interviews it's a relocation that suits him well. And with Sunshine Rock he's also found his way back to the music that fits and serves him best; the triumphant and defiant primal blast of the two bands he's most readily associated with; Husker Du and Sugar.
Mould always made the ultimate case for the primacy of the trio as the Rock and Roll unit. If he didn't win that particular argument then, he seals it now. Sunshine Rock is a fine record. An elegiac one maybe, wrought with the hard won lessons of middle age but ultimately an impressively positive and optimistic one. During the making of the record Mould lost Grant Hart, his sparring partner and creative spur during his time with Du, one of the fiercest and most notable bands there's ever been. It's impossible not to detect clues to that here. You can clearly isolate moments of Mould looking backwards, looking at now, looking to the future.
My verdict on Sunshine Rock once I've listened through to it for the first time. I think it's a quite remarkable record for a man, well into his fifties and with plenty of weight to bear from the past, the recent past at that. But Mould doesn't sink into the darkness, in fact makes his way determinedly towards the light. The summit of Sunshine Rock if you will. I don't mind the abundant echoes of Husker Du and Sugar here. In fact I'm grateful, because they make perfect sense. Mould is honouring the past of those who've loved his records and playing over the years so much as well as the musicians he's performed with and his own well documented personal struggles. He should be commended.