Bob Mould: District Line

By: Tim Newby

Growing old and aging gracefully in the world of rock ‘n’ roll can at times be an almost impossible task. Trying to maintain the anger and edge displayed of your youth can be difficult when going to bed early and being responsible supersedes staying up late and partying till dawn. Too many bands stop moving forward with their music, and instead only try to relive past glories by repeating the sound they created when they were young. This makes them come off as tired and backward sounding. As Bob Mould sings on “Return to Dust” from his new album District Line (Anti), “Growing old, it’s hard to be an angry young man.”

Mould, whose greatest glories came when he was a much younger man with his seminal 1980s group Hüsker Dü, has been able to avoid the pratfall of age and find a way to stay true to his hardcore youthful muse while at the same time aging gracefully. On District Line, Mould wisely stays away from the screaming guitars and unbridled angst that populated his early years. Instead, he stays closer to the subtle undertones he developed with his oft-overlooked post Husker Du outfit, Sugar.

Mould has crafted an album that embraces melody and song as much as he did anger and strong emotions in his earlier work. This is not meant to imply that Mould has completely forsaken his hardcore youth. While the occasional acoustic tune shows up, Mould still delivers a barrage of loud, crunchy guitars, but now they’re played with a restrained touch as opposed to the maniacal energy he once displayed.

District Line directly references back to the power of Mould’s youth but without seeming dated. It takes what he does best – loud, aggressive guitars piled over angst filled lyrics powered by stunningly addictive melodies – and combines it with the wisdom that only be learned with time to create an aggressively mature album that highlights the best of Mould’s past and present. District Line is a graceful step forward for the aging rocker that serves to remind you not only of where he came from but also who he has become.

JamBase | Middle Ages
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