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Bob Mould: Patch The Sky

Punk-pop godfather returns in fearsome but familiar form.

Currently enjoying a prolific midlife resurgence, Bob Mould’s third album in just over three years is billed as the closing chapter in a loosely linked trilogy. As on Beauty & Ruin and Silver Age, the alt.rock elder statesman is working though recent traumatic events on these revved-up confessionals, including the death of his mother.

Once again, the dominant flavour is a full-throttle jingle-jangle roar rooted more in the melodic churn of Mould’s grunge-era power trio Sugar than in his Husker Du years.

Mould describes Patch The Sky as being both darker and more catchy than both its predecessors, which is arguable. It certainly contains some seismic effects-pedal anthems, invoking the gale-force guitar turbulence of Kevin Shields or J Mascis on You Say You and Lucifer And God. But heart-tugging, chord-chugging, big-chorus belters like Hold On and Pray For Rain stick well within his comfort zone, leading to an overall sameyness that becomes a little monotonous in places.

A handful of faster tracks are also reminders that while Mould’s signature sound may have helped inspire Nirvana and Pixies, it also led to pedestrian populists like Green Day. A solid addition to the canon, but not quite a classic.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.