Album review: Bob Mould's 'Life and Times'
At 48, Bob Mould might be a bit young for an album title like "Life and Times," which sounds more like the name of a Bob Dylan record than one by the guy who came of age fronting the seminal post-punk trio Hüsker Dü.
On the other hand, Mould's packing so much into his creative existence these days that you can understand why he might be in the mood to reflect: In addition to recording this new solo disc (his second for local indie Anti-), he's been playing regular DJ dates as half of the duo Blowoff and is currently at work on an autobiography with writer Michael Azerrad. Later this month, he'll play Coachella as well.
Despite its self-conscious man-of-maturity vibe -- "Fare thee well, my setting sun," he sings in "Spiraling Down" -- "Life and Times" actually feels much more vital than its predecessor, last year's "District Line." That set overdosed on creaky roots-music arrangements, but here for the most part Mould keeps the energy high and the hooks in your face. Stiff-grooved power-pop gems such as "Argos" and "I'm Sorry, Baby, but You Can't Stand in My Light Any More" sound as if they could be leftovers from Mould's great early-'90s group Sugar, while in "City Lights (Days Go By)" and "MM 17" he embroiders his thorny guitars with sleek electronic textures in a refreshingly natural way.
The result is a compelling conversation between the two sides of Mould's persona: the graying philosopher and the brazen noise boy.
-- Mikael Wood
"Life and Times"
Two and a half stars