It’s no surprise that Bob Mould’s new solo album, Silver Age, is his most direct and guitar driven since the days when he was the creative force at the centre of 90’s alt-rock icons Sugar. Earlier this year saw the release of repackaged, re-mastered deluxe editions of that band’s two albums, the seminal Copper Blue and comparatively disappointing File Under: Easy Listening. Revisiting those two albums has evidently reinvigorated Mould’s dormant love of really loud guitar music with the end result being a ten song blast of full on rock brilliance that’s as ragged as it is glorious. That he can still harness the levels of intensity on display here this far into his career is quite remarkable. Even more remarkable is how damn catchy these songs are. It’s also interesting that Mould featured on the last Foo Fighters album because the songs here pull off the same trick that Grohl and crew have proved masters of time and again; that of marrying unbridled ferocity to an abundance of pop nous without the latter element diluting the intensity of the former. This is particularly true of “The Descent”, the first single to be lifted from the album, a song that contains more hooks than the holds of a fleet of fishing trawlers. Rolling drums usher in the raging fury of the stunning “Fugue State” while closing track “First Time Joy” is a big surge of emotion that starts off somewhat gentle before erupting with urgency when the chorus hits. With these ten songs Bob Mould shows exactly how to do that comeback thing that so many bands fumble. 4.5/5
Celebration Rock opens with “The Nights of Wine and Roses” a song that sets out the band’s noise punk take on classic American rock with exhilarating results. This is a band that doesn’t do subtle. Power chords and primal drumming are this band’s lifeblood. The pace never falters, remaining breakneck from start to finish. On paper the lyrics may read a mite simplistic; perhaps even dumb. But married to the relentless, full on rush of the music they sound more like a manifesto to live your life by. Japandroids sound like they mean every last word and believe that every crashing chord is as important to them as their next breath of air. Track four, “For the Love of Ivy”, is a cover of a Gun Club song and good god do they do it justice. The original is an outstanding song and a great example of the quiet/loud ethos. But Japandroids do not do quiet/loud. They do loud/louder. So their version is a full throttle mess of feedback guitars that comes hurtling out the gate like a greyhound with its tail on fire.