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Bob Mould - The Last Dog And Pony Show

"Last" albums, "last" tours…is there a point? On the one hand, announcing in advance that your new album and tour will be your "last" as a "hard rocker" gives your audience the opportunity to come out and pay homage to you and the music they’ve come to expect from you. It’s a way for artist and fan to wallow in a bittersweet symphony of instant nostalgia and say goodbye to their proverbial Hollywoods—and of course, by extension, to say goodbye to their proverbial babies.

Post-punk pioneer Bob Mould is the latest to go this route, and while there’s no hard evidence he’s pulling a Bowie-esque canard, The Last Dog And Pony Show tastes like a great rock and roll swindle of sorts. On the heels of a solid self-titled 1996 effort, Mould’s new Show sounds like too much of a retread. The acoustic guitars are still chiming, the words are still vitriolic and melancholy, and the production semi-gloss is still sharp. In the absence of great songs, though, the whole show does not equal the sum of its parts.

It’s a bummer. The guy has made a fat stack of inspired music in Hüsker Dü, Sugar, and under his own name. He will likely bounce back. Longtime fans will want to own this record and catch his last waltz through their town with a loud rock band. It just seems a shame that his so-called last moment of punk glory was so carefully planned and, as a result, so un-punk.