After the bitterness and anguish that came with the break-up of Hüsker Dü in 1998, fans expected frontman Bob Mould’s first solo work to carry on in the abrasive tone that had made them so influential in the first place.
So when Workbook (8⁄10) opened with the pretty, delicate, acoustic instrumental Sunspots, Mould pulled the rug out from under us by putting the anger to one side and leaving exposed the soul at the centre of it.
Twenty-five years on, the tentative hope underneath shines through, not least in See A Little Light with a tyrannosaur of a chorus that bursts through genre boundaries and gleams with the angst-pop nous he’d go on to nurture with Sugar. Bonus track All Those People Know and a live CD are welcome extras, but it’s the original emotional complexities and Mould’s heart-on-sleeve vocals make this a must-have.
Black Sheets Of Rain (7⁄10), on the other hand, is a much more chippy affair – it’s telling that he’s chosen to re-release it unembellished with extras, leaving it to make the stark statements it did on the day of release. So while It’s Too Late again features the kind of chorus that burrows under your skin and sets up camp forever – he seems to be incapable of keeping those amazing melodic skills under wraps even in his darkest days – the album swims in bile.
Taken together, these records show two sides of a truly special talent.