‘Patch the Sky’ marks the latest release in a long solo career for Bob Mould, however one may be forgiven for not realising that the veteran rocker has been putting out albums under this moniker since the late eighties (beginning with 1989’s ‘Workbook’).
It’s true that the renown of Mould’s prior outfits Hüsker Dü and Sugar have occasionally overshadowed the man’s solo efforts, with many fans guilty of measuring new releases by the ‘Copper Blue’ (1992 Sugar album) benchmark. That is perhaps until the release of 2012’s ‘Silver Age’, which marked a definite return of Mould’s musical mojo. And that mojo is certainly not lost on ‘Patch the Sky’.
Previous album, ‘Beauty & Ruin’, mainly centred on Mould processing the death of his father. Between then and the release of this latest album, he also went on to lose his mother, too, which is reflected within the writing and the atmosphere. The singer describes the feeling of losing someone in this way as something piercing the “fabric of the sky”, leaving you to “sow it back shut and stay on the other side” – of course, leading to the album’s title.
This culmination of events certainly hasn’t affected the energy of the album, however, with heaps of typically loud guitars sitting underneath Bob Mould‘s unmistakably iconic voice.
The slightly downbeat opener of ‘Voices in My Head’ sets things up perfectly with quite a moody sound to it, though certainly not lacking in the hooks department. This is before ‘The End of Days’ picks things up with distortion-saturated guitars and plenty of the pacy punk rock power that encapsulated the spirit of Mould’s resurgent ‘Silver Age’.
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A lot of the tracks have that great, slightly lazily-delivered pop rock sound. That’s not to say it’s in any way sloppy, just that the music is presented in a very deliberate way as to showcase the infectiously catchy melodies and hooks rather than simply thrash it out.
One little niggle one might have with this album is that there doesn’t seem to have been any progression or experimentation in sound following on from previous releases; the sound is pretty much exactly what the listener would be expecting to hear if au fait with Bob Mould‘s prior work. Of course, that’s not always a problem, and the quality of the writing on ‘Patch the Sky’ certainly won’t draw any negative criticism from the listener – each track a peach lathered with wall-of-noise guitar and characterised by an effortless delivery.
Ending on the slow slog of ‘Monument’, providing a nice shift in pace to depressurise the listener, ‘Patch the Sky’ certainly stands as a monument and testament to Bob Mould‘s impeccable knack as a songwriter and deliverer of great melodies, proving that he’s here to stay.
‘Patch the Sky’ is out on the 25th March via Merge Records.
This Bob Mould article was written by Macon Oxley, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse