'Life and Times'
A little late w/ a review on this one, but i'd be remiss if I didn't give Bob's latest it's due. Mr. Mould is one of those rare artists from the heyday of the 80's post-punk college alt-rock scene, much like Paul Westerberg and/or Black Francis, that i'll always give an eager listen to w/ each new project. One could challenge, actually, that his post-Hüsker Dü output (both solo and w/ Sugar in the 90's) may just be a bit more consistent than the other two aforementioned artist's post-Mats and Pixies catalog.
On 'Life and Times', Bob continues to hone his alt-pop craftsmanship to solid results. Definitely not as much adrenalin as Hüsker Dü or even Sugar for that matter, but it still rocks...hard. Not as folksy as 'Workbook', but it has similar beautiful moments of more refrained introspection. Not as electronically-infused as 'Modulator' (or even the last few solo albums), but it effectively leverages dollops of similar augmentation where it makes sense. Really, it's a combination of all of those things and I dig it.
Perhaps I don't dig it as much as the previous album, 'District Line', but there isn't a huge gap between the two. The title track is pretty representative of the melding of previous styles I alluded to earlier...sparse acoustic to nearly orchestral to big angry rock (it's all in there). He throws down some absolutely shimmering power-pop on the hooky 'City Lights (Days Go By)', only to melt your face off w/ a blistering, Hüsker-esque 'Argos' a mere two tracks later. I'm a big fan of the pumping 'Spiraling Down' as well.
The ballads peppered throughout are vintage Bob as well, but i'd be lying if I said I didn't like the more uptempo stuff than when he gets his sad-face on. The only real mis-step I hear on 'Life and Times' would be the plodding, synth-heavy final track in 'Lifetime'...just a little too murky for my tastebuds. Also, let me be clear, lyrically, Bob is still lamenting about how bad love can stink, but he just seems more at peace w/ that this time around. That said, it's a solid album worth grabbing...listen to a sample in the AMBFAD jukebox and see what you think.