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Bob Mould / Paul Westerberg - Bob Mould / Eventually
(Ryko)/(Reprise)

Eventually is the melodic, meandering, meaningless album Paul Westerberg was bound to make, well, eventually. Sure, only two tracks are genuine clunkersóbut of the remaining ten, only one or two pack any surprises. And while the words are typically clever, not much new thematic ground is broken.

Oops, howíd that review of 14 Songs get in there? Or was it Donít Tell A Soul? No matter. Westerberg is still godhead after all these years, and the fact that he may not have another "Bastards Of Young" in him does not detract from the beauty and power of these new songs. A little predictability goes a long way when itís framing a perfect imageóthe "crummy little street" in the breezy "Love Untold"óor a well-timed joke like the one about Catherine The Great in the lone rave-up, "Youíve Had It With You."

Without a thesis statement Š la "Unsatisfied" or even "World Class Fad," the record seems kind of weightless, but when youíre floating in space with songs like "Trumpet Clip" and "MamaDaddyDid," there will be times when you wonít make it back to earth in time to write an anthemic emphasis track. If there is a focal point, itís an awfully sedate oneóthe understated piano ballad "Good Day." "Stain Yer Blood," the rousing Westerberg original relegated to the Friends soundtrack last year, might have fit the bill, but it does not show up here.

The first eponymously titled album by any of the elite Minneapolis songwriters since Prince, Bob Mouldís new one, too, mines territory heís waded through before, and with no less success. The familiar disappointments and frustrations build from the brooding intensity of "Anymore Time Between" to the Sugary uptempo ballads that dominate the set. But where even Eventuallyís best moments do not have the classic quality of most of Tim or Let It Be, Mould has all the urgency and indeed none of the occasional excesses of his most important work.

The acoustic "Thumb Tack" has the markings of later DŁ, while set-closers "Art Crisis" and "Roll Over & Die" would have been the best Sugar songs since Copper Blue. And to further distinguish himself from the Chilton worshipper, Mould brings a few new condiments to the table, most notably for "Hair Stew," into which he stirs a screeching, feedback-type sound to impressively melodic effect. Itís another tale of deception ("I see you sleep with him/And yeah I guess thatís cool") and obsession ("But Iím in love with your hair") executed with typical Mouldian aplomb. Song for song, Bob Mould is just as cohesive as Workbook and Copper Blue, and a similar comparison of Eventually against previous Westerworks cannot be made with such favorable results.

Though cut from the same cloth, these guysí careers never really have run parallel. Their songwriting sense and strength continue to set them apart, still a solid notch above both their contemporaries (Soul Asylum) and the next generation (Goo Goo Dolls). If Bobís effort this time around edges out Paulís, itís no knock on the ex-íMatójust watching these two giants go at it is more fun than guessing which city will make a better New Minneapolis than Seattle did. So, a toast to Bob Mould. And Paul, I know youíre on the wagon, but I take a great big whiskey to you, anyway.

YEAH YEAH YEAH, 1996