Bob Mould is anything but predictable. Across an impressively influential career that goes back four decades, Mould put midwestern punk on the map with Husker Du before segueing into a quieter solo run and then pivoting to a madly addictive distortion-bathed power pop with Sugar. For the past 20 years or so, he’s back to being a solo artist, but forging an unpredictable path that draws both from the immediacy and fury of Husker Du and the hook-filled, melodic moments that made Sugar such a fun listen.
While last year’s Sunshine Rock, true it its title, was definitely drawing from the music that defined Sugar-era Mould, with Blue Hearts Mould is certainly calling on his Husker Du bona fides. The album, absolutely pitch perfect for our current reality, is pure piss and vinegar Mould aiming his vitriol at those responsible for the shitstorm our country is currently trying to weather. A flag waving narcissist using Evangelicals as a shield as he oppresses just about anyone who is not a straight white Christian male; Reagan Redux with even an even stronger sociopathic streak.
The song “American Crisis,” coming in under three minutes is pretty much the thesis for the record: “I never thought I’d see this bullshit again/To come of age in the ’80s was bad enough/We were marginalized and demonized/I watched a lot of my generation die/Welcome back to American crisis.” What follows is a frantic burst of fury, with Mould’s whip smart, insightful lyrics shielded behind a barrage of machine gun drumming and a layer of distortion so powerful that the last time he played Letterman he literally shook the dust from the rafters.
Despite the heavy Husker Du punk vibes that cover Blue Hearts, there is still a powerful catchiness to these songs unlike anything he put out in the ‘80s. Songs like “When You Left” and “Baby Needs A cookie” would fit right in on Sugar’s Copper Blue or File Under: Easy Listening.
Coming in at 14 tracks, but still just a few moments over 30 minutes, Blue Hearts is over while you’re still trying to catch your breath. It’s sad Mould needed to pull together and album’s worthy of angry protest songs, but it serves as the perfect to soundtrack to our march to the voting booth in November.