Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock

Rock's elder statesman returns with potentially his most upbeat offering to date

Album Review by Joe Goggins | 06 Feb 2019
  • Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock
Album title: Sunshine Rock
Artist: Bob Mould
Label: Merge
Release date: 8 Feb

You wouldn’t know, on the face of it, that this is the first Bob Mould record since he swapped San Francisco for Berlin. Surely his longtime home in the Californian Bay Area would have provided a more stirring backdrop for Sunshine Rock than the German capital, so often so frosty in both climate and atmosphere. Instead, it seems as if circumstances both personal and global have spurred the former Hüsker Dü frontman to turn in an irrepressibly boisterous and gently optimistic album that harkens back to Sugar’s seminal Copper Blue more faithfully than any of his solo efforts since 2012’s Silver Age.

At 35 minutes, Sunshine Rock positively breezes by and, in doing so, becomes the Mould solo effort that most closely captures the incendiary energy of his current live set, which sees him joined by Jason Narducy of Split Single and Superchunk’s Jon Wurster to blast through two hours of Dü, Sugar and solo classics night after night. His musical mission statement here was to make an unapologetic guitar record and it shows; Send Me a Postcard and Thirty Dozen Roses are scorchingly pacy with pointed, almost snarled vocals, while the thunderous I Fought recalls his combative 80s heyday.

The counterpoint to that, though, is that the softly melodic The Final Years has him ruminating on the diminishing of his 'misplaced rage'; he still sounds quietly apprehensive about the future. For the most part, though, he drowns out his concerns with breakneck rock'n'roll; there’s some soaring solos, especially on What Do You Want Me to Do, while the title track – the seed from which the rest of the record grew – will force a grin onto the face of even his most determinedly po-faced fans. "It was like, 'This is not Black Sheets of Rain'," said Mould wryly of Sunshine Rock, comparing it with his moodily nihilistic 1990 LP. No shit, Bob.

Listen to: Thirty Dozen Roses, I Fought, Send Me a Postcard