Credit: Ron Soltys
Released by (Anti)
Stater rating (out of five): ****
Bob Mould has come a long way since his days with Hüsker Dü and Sugar, and the punk pioneer’s seventh solo album keeps the sound alive and fresh.
District Line maintains a harmonious balance of Hüsker’s willingness to experiment, Sugar’s Foo Fighters-esque melody and Mould’s maturity as a musician and a person. The album’s first track “Stupid Now” begins with Mould’s distinct and direct, yet soothing, voice singing “Please listen to me/ and don’t disagree.” It’s hard to disagree with someone who is at the top of his game, even though the glory days of the legendary Hüsker Dü have long been gone.
The rest of the album consists of high-energy jams and relaxing, reflective ballads. Songs such as “Again and Again” and “Return to Dust” might remind longtime fans of something from Sugar with Hüsker’s “Never Talking to You Again” during the acoustic driven verses. Slower tracks like “Old Highs, New Lows” and “Shelter Me” integrate synthesizers to give them a trance-like feel.
The album’s lyrics share a common theme of trying to find solace amidst the constant changes of life and moving on. This theme is nothing new to Mould, as many of his previous solo albums and Hüsker’s as well. This is tied together with the end track “Walls in Time.” Although the tracks don’t blend into each other, District Line’s unity gives it the feel of a concept album, like Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade (1984).
Mould may have toned down a bit since the punk and hardcore days of Hüsker Dü and sharpened his sound, but District Line represents a sort of end result of years of rebellion, experimentation and maturation.
Contact all editor Allan Lamb at [email protected]