I was not expecting to enjoy this new Bob Mould album as much as I am. Because look, I love Bob Mould. He’s one of the all-timers. But if I’m being honest, when I went to the record store I was mainly looking to pick up the new Tacocat album, but since I always feel weird only buying one thing when I go to any store, I figured I’d spend some money on the new Bob Mould. Because he’s certainly a guy who I’ll support in whatever ways I can, though I wasn’t necessarily that excited to hear his 12th solo album. Still, Mould’s been on a bit of a late-career roll lately with 2012’s Silver Age and 2014’s Beauty & Ruin, which saw one of the architects of alternative rock returning to the loud/melodic sound that he made his name on, and I think you could say Patch The Sky completes a kind of trilogy with these other two albums, and is probably my favorite of the bunch.
So why is it my favorite of these three albums? Well, as I confessed to in my previous review, I made it clear that I am a big fan of hooks (because who isn’t?), and this is probably the album where Bob Mould leans into melody more than loudness, which I am all for. It’s an album that reminds me a lot of Copper Blue, the debut release from Mould’s ’90s band Sugar, which is probably the most commercial thing he ever released, and one of the definitive alternative rock albums of that era. Granted, there aren’t any breakout songs here on the level of a “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” or “Hoover Dam”, but I suppose you can only capture that kind of lighting in a bottle once, though Patch The Sky does a pretty great job of capturing that sound while having some of that bittersweetness that has managed to seep it’s way into this recent Mould albums.
“The War” from Beauty & Ruin probably best summed up this latest incarnation of Bob Mould as a solo artist, as it saw the singer/songwriter reflecting on having made it through the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s as an artist with integrity, and having nothing to show for it but his voice. Now, clearly he has much more to show for it than that, as he’s influenced so many bands that it’s a little mind-boggling. But I think it did point out how amazing it is that he’s made it and survived and still remained fairly relevant when so many artists and bands of his generation have fallen by the wayside. “Workmanlike” is a word I would’ve used to describe when I saw him live a couple years ago with bandmates Jon Wurster and Jason Narducy, since these are a bunch of guys who still know how to consistently throw everything they have into their music (despite all of them being 40+, they happen to rock really hard). And when Bob Mould is still pushing himself to write really good songs the way he is on Patch The Sky, it’s just a pleasure to hear him and his bandmates work.
Favorite Tracks: “The End Of Things”, “Hold On”, “Black Confetti”