Those familiar with the decades-spanning oeuvre of Bob Mould from his pioneering early ’80s work with Hüsker Dü to his solo work in singer-songwriter, electronic, and rock modes, to the deafening pop sparkle of Sugar might expect a new album bearing the title Silver Age to be a somber and reflective set in the mode of his last album, 2009’s Life and Times…and they’d be way off the mark.
Silver Age is an intense and concise ten song blast far more reminiscent of Bob’s latter-day Hüsker Dü output—first marked by the monumental sprawl of 1984’s Zen Arcade which then gave way to the short, sharp pop focus of 1985’s New Day Rising and his early ’90s tenure with Sugar, whose classic debut Copper Blue marks its 20th anniversary this year. That said, Silver Age is no nostalgia trip. Aside from lyrical content that shows Bob as in-the-now as ever, Silver Age came together quickly and organically in the wake of a series of electric solo dates in 2011 supporting Foo Fighters (where he guested each night on “Dear Rosemary,” the track from the Foos’ Wasting Light on which Bob shares writing and vocal duties) as well as a solo acoustic/book tour around last summer’s publication of See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, the autobiography Bob co-authored with Michael Azerrad (Come as You Are, Our Band Could Be Your Life). These events culminated in a tribute last November at Los Angeles’ Disney Hall that featured the likes of Dave Grohl, Ryan Adams, Spoon’s Britt Daniel, and Craig Finn and Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady celebrating the width and breadth of Bob’s body of work.
“I’d been batting around the idea of another aggressive pop record for some time,” Bob says, “especially as the 20th anniversary of Copper Blue kept getting closer. But it was really the shows with Foo Fighters that got me thinking when I started writing for this record: Did I just write a Sugar song? Or a Foo Fighters song? Or one of my own songs? And does it really matter? Once I got that out of the way, it freed me up to have some fun and set about making a simple rock record.”