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Bob Mould - Modulate
(Granary/United Musicians)

A semi-self-reinvention of sorts, Modulate marks the first major expansion of the boundaries of what is "the Bob Mould sound" since his 1989 solo debut, that acoustic-flavored wonderland called Workbook. The broader sonic palette here is the result of his recent fascination with electronic music—Bob notes on his website that he’s been listening to Boards Of Canada and Arling & Cameron. The results of Mould’s studio experimentation are good, but nothing about that is surprising, as this is not the first time the man has successfully made a departure from his trademark sound.

Sure, songs like "Sound On Sound" and "Trade" do mine the familiar, guitar-laden post-punk landscape he helped create with Hüsker Dü and refined with Sugar. But it’s the less familiar synthesized sounds that forcefully propel "Sunset Safety Glass" and subtly enhance "Come On Strong" that are most striking because their charms are unexpected. It could be said that the overall mood is one of frustrated semi-contentment—there’s definitely no riot goin’ on here, but it’s not like a Cowsills song is threatening to breakout anywhere in the immediate vicinity of this album, either.

Perhaps his recent stint writing scripts for pro wrestling on television led Bob to express his angst in new ways. This is not your father’s Bob Mould album; aw hell, this isn’t even your Bob Mould album. What Modulate is is the next step in the evolution of a master craftsman who’s still makin’ it happen. Props.
address: Granary Music