Stargrazer | deep in the heart of Michigan | 11/01/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As a "return to form," this is rather timid and tepid. Sorry for the loaded adjectives -- I will give its praise before I discuss its shortcomings.
It is definitely reaffirming to hear Bob Mould put out a (mostly) guitar-based album after the debacle of "Modulate." Not that "Modulate" was entirely without merit, but it is not in any way easy to listen to. It seems forced and calculated and aimed at quite a different audience than "Black Sheets of Rain" or "Copper Blue" or "Beaster." Bob had to know his average fan was not much of an electronica listener, after all!
"Body of Song," long rumored to be an all-acoustic project, has been in the works for years. Mould even refered to it indirectly as his "Nick Drake album" on the interview disc included with "Last Dog and Pony Show."
The resulting album is far different -- and not necessarily in a bad way -- than what it was built up as all these years. Face it, if he was not feeling motivated to put out an all acoustic album, it's probably better that he didn't. His stripped down material works best when it has the same passion behind it as his eardrum-shredding electric guitar work. And to it's credit, "Body of Song" has some great acoustic-dominated moments -- most notably "Nihil" on the bonus disc.
The remainder of the electric guitar songs are solid and decently rewarding. One can easily hear the maturity in his singing voice -- and simultaneously miss his old multi-tracked whine and its gripping pathos. "Body of Song's" vocals are clear, up front in the mix, and ever-so-slightly dispassionate. That, and a bit of the production trickery from "Modulate" has lingered -- vocals echo, ping-pong from speaker to speaker, and shimmer drenched in vocoder and other effects.
The bonus disc is well worth owning, often trumping the album itself. "Castor and Pollux" finds Mould marrying his love of electronica and his guitar skills without any of the self-consciousness of "Modulate." "Surveyors and Cranes" could have easily been exchanged for any track on the album proper. But who would have ever imagined the songwriter behind Husker Du's "Erase Today" or Sugar's "JC Auto" penning a sexless disco number like "Love Escalator?"
Where "Last Dog and Pony Show" was confident and assured, Mould seems a little lost in his own element on "Body of Song." If he has in fact forgone his love for the distortion-fueled, emotionally charged electric guitar albums he built a reputation and rabid fan-base on, perhaps he should go for broke and go all electronic from here on out.
"Body of Song" is vastly reassuring, but I can't help fearing that this once incendiary guitarist and songwriter is becoming another Eric Clapton: bland, tired, and enslaved by current technology and musical trends."
S. Cotton | 09/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those of you who have had the good fortune of following Bob Mould's career since the early 80's, and have enjoyed all the twist and turns of of his musical life, this album will encompass all of it. Husker, Sugar, accoustic, dance... all here all good. Embrace the diversity. Great Album"
PUNK LEGEND IS BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER
Richard Perdomo | Tampa, Florida | 07/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bob Mould returns with the best album of his storied career. The loud guitars and stirring lyrics are back with a subtle keyboard track that enhances but does not engulf. the opening track " circles " has the feel of HUSKER DU in their prime and is perhaps the best song on the album. " missing you " has the great pop hooks that SUGAR made into an art form. " gauze of friendship " is Bob at his emotional best lamenting a lost love. This album proves that Bob is the most underated and talented songwriter of his genre."
Mould Fans Rewarded
J. CHIHAK | Madison, WI | 09/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a fan since the 80's: being floored by Rolling Stones Album of the Year (1987) "Warehouse Songs and Stories" (Husker Du; "Zen Arcade" is excellent as well) awed by seeing Bob perform "Workbook" and "Copper Blue" (Sugar) live at in The First Avenue (Minneapolis). I really liked his self-titled work as well. I haven't really been impressed with any other of his work, until now. First off, opening the limited edition boxed set struck me dumb, especially since I was once an altar boy (I wonder if Bob was too?) The included art/photography and its arrangement/presentation (subtle and tasteful) sets the overall tone. The music shows us that Bob has put it all together: his past, present, and future. He presents us with this 2-disc magnus opus, a great mixture of songs both reminiscent and new; Bob's truly consummated work, a Body of Song."