Album of the Week: Bob Mould, 'Patch the Sky'


Bob Mould
Bob Mould - Patch the Sky (Courtesy of Merge Records)

When Bob Mould released Silver Age back in 2012, many longtime fans were delighted by his so-called "return to form." Backed by an ace rhythm section (drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy), Mould was once again fronting a genuinely formidable power trio. Bolstered by his signature furious guitar melodies, he seemed like the Bob of old, sometimes snarling, sometimes howling, always searching.

Since that time, Mould lost both his father and mother. So it's all the more remarkable that he has just released one of the most upbeat sounding records of his career. Patch The Sky finds Bob Mould with the same backing band, exploring the same exhilarating musical territory as his last two releases. And while this is certainly an album dominated by reflection and the haunting nature of the past, it's anything but a downer … and it's anything but nostalgia.

Middle age hasn't even begun to diminish the power — or the swirling, distorted insistence — of Mould's frenzied melodies. Heavy, primal guitar riffs are clearly still his main means of catharsis. Yet despite the dark, dire and very personal explorations that define Patch The Sky, Mould has never sounded more hopeful. A prime example is the album's second track "The End Of Things." Despite the apocalyptic title, the song is almost a celebration.

The songs on Patch The Sky have all the sonic power and emotional gravity that we've come to expect from Bob Mould, but there also seems to be a newfound contentment here, an understanding that this is just how things are. Sure, we have to explore the dark corners, but we can't get lost in them, we can't ever give up.

Maybe, when it comes to The Big Questions, there aren't any real answers, but they still need to be asked. And … if that soul-searching can be accompanied by glorious, distorted guitars, all the better.

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