Release Date: Apr 7, 2009
Record label: Anti
Time and experience makes this songwriter wiser Produced and mixed by Mould himself, Life and Times examines Mould’s past, 20 years after establishing himself as a solo artist, reflecting on his own accomplishments as well as his regrets. Reminiscing on lost love and lust, Mould impresses with his songwriting skills. In “Argos,” he explores his long gone youth with punky guitar riffs that play along to dirty lyrics (“Lead me to the Sanifair / Reach into my underwear”).
Based on its title, it's tempting to think of Life and Times as an autobiography, especially when armed with the knowledge that Bob Mould recorded this album while writing his actual autobiography (scheduled to hit stores in 2010). It's tempting, but not quite accurate, as this is less an orderly journey through the past than memories refracted through the prism of the present. Life and Times bears the unmistakable stamp of being latter-day Mould in how he consolidates his strengths, not embracing his electronica but not running away from it either, in how his writing has a casual, disarming frankness, particularly when recounting last night's sex on "Bad Blood Better.
Bob Mould may have begun this decade experimenting with new musical styles for his solo work, but ever since 2002’s Modulate he’s been slowly retracting that head-first dive into electronic music with a succession of redemptive releases, each more rock-oriented than the last. Yet where those last three albums have come almost perfunctorily spaced three years apart, the short 14-month span between 2008’s District Line and his new Life and Times stands out as an anomaly. At risk of reading too much into his return to a Hüsker Dü-paced release schedule, it’s still fair to say that Life and Times sounds rushed when compared to the meticulous craft of his earlier output from this decade.
Bob Mould made his name laying his emotions bare, and it's a trait that's not only stayed with him throughout his 30-year career, but one that perhaps has become even more pronounced. The same holds true for alt-legend Mould's level of self-awareness, which, too, has grown more and more pronounced as his influence continues to seep through every level of the indie strata. "There's sort of a traditional sound I have," he admitted to me a year ago.
This ninth solo album finds the former Hüsker Dü and Sugar firebrand still making a mark. An eclectic, at times explicit, exploration of love, loss and lust, it's the work of a skilled songwriter comfortable in his own skin and canon. The songs revisit most of Mould's major milieux – punk rock, hard pop, edgy electronica – with the benefits of age and experience.
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