One Track Mind: Bob Mould, "The Descent" (2012)

The recent reissue of Bob Mould’s underrated early-1990s work with Sugar was but prologue for this new single — a burst of guitar-pop blitzkrieg that recalls his Husker Du-era work on Flip Your Wig.

That 1985 album, played fast but with a lighter tone than their earlier efforts, shares a kind of dangerous brightness with “The Descent.” It’s pop music with the edges cut up by a serrated knife, a glass-smooth centerpoint surrounded by roiling seas.

In the rush of sound here, I fell back into an old conundrum from the Husker days, too: How is Mould able to be so loud, so earth-shudderingly loud, and play with such pin-point virtuosity at the same time? Where others simply flail, he attacks with a steely control. These feelings are too hard-won for any piece of them to fall out of place.

If there’s a complaint, and it’s been a consistent one with me, it’s that again Mould’s voice is mixed a bit too low — and sometimes his words, always just as cuttingly incisive as his riffs, can get subsumed. “The Descent’s” billowing propulsion, though, easily carries it past such quibbles.

The combined effect, if you listen very hard, is yet another transcription of Mould’s heart — something that, as with the very best of his work through the years, feels like catharsis through a beat-up amp.

“The Descent,” available now on iTunes, arrives ahead of the September 4, 2012, release of ‘Silver Age’ via Merge — Mould’s first new studio full-length since 2009′s ‘Life and Times.’ The project features bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster, both from Mould’s regular touring band.


Here’s a look at Bob Mould’s upcoming 2012 tour dates:

08/08 – Oslo, NO @ Oya Festival
08/09-11 – Gothenburg, SE @ Way Out West 2012
08/11 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso Grote Zaal
08/13 – Codroipo, IT @ Villa Mainin
08/15 – Prague, CZ @ 02 Arena
08/16, 2012 – St. Polten, AT @ Frequency Festival
08/18 – Hasselt, BE @ Pukkelpop Festival
09/07 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
09/08 – Washington DC @ 9:30 Club
09/10 – Boston, MA @ Paradise
09/11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
09/13 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
09/15 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
09/18 – Seattle, WA – Showbox
09/19 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
09/21 – San Francisco, CA – Fillmore
09/21-23, 2012, Pensacola Beach, FL @ DeLuna Fest

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at