Bob Mould Fights His Demons With Noise And Grace On Patch The Sky
By Brody Coronelli - Link: Twitter
Bob Mould needs no introduction. The former frontman of the pioneering ‘80s punk rock band Husker Du, the chart topping, alternative rock band Sugar in the ‘90s, and the proprietor of an affluent solo career as of late, Mould’s presence is established and hard-wired into the industry. Over the past four years, he’s released some of his best material so far; beginning the streak with 2012’s critically acclaimed fan favorite Silver Age, elongating it with 2014’s Beauty & Ruin, and taking it into new dimensions with his newest endeavor Patch The Sky.
In a conversation with fellow singer-songwriter and longtime friend Ryan Adams on NPR, Mould described the title of the album as an expression of recent loss in his life. Describing how he imagines people breaking through the sky when they pass, the title Patch The Sky reflects the repairs that those close to them must undergo when only their memory remains. This commentary sets the tone for a dark, introspective record that shines as one of Mould’s finest moments throughout his almost thirty-year career.
These songs are short, sweet, loud, dark, and purely chemical. Keeping his affinity for noise by his side, Mould inhabits these tracks with the graceful angst of his years that brings a new front of emotion and sentimentality to the punk rock he’s perfected. The melodies are bright, but the themes laden underneath are dark and brooding; a contrast that gives Patch The Sky a new dimension of reflection. Mould framed these songs around something he calls the “chemical chorus”, describing it as “...you hear it once and your brain starts tingling. The heart rate picks up. It gets worse—you know it’s coming again and you can barely stand the anticipation.” These poignant themes, luminous melodies, and infectious choruses all loiter in the heart of Patch The Sky, ready to be consumed like a drug.
On the lead single and opener “Voices In My Head”, Mould addresses the dynamics of his conscious, “trying to find some truth within the noise.” The song is an adequate precursor to what the album deals with and the noise it makes in the process. Following this, Mould tries to navigate his demons one track after another, eventually coming to apparent peace with the closing track “Monument”. “Pray For Rain” is a pulsing, addictive punk-rock number that perfects the “chemical chorus” with nearly every note. With every verse paving the way to a harmony-centered chorus and leaving room for snarling, invigorating guitar leads in-between, Mould proclaims with cynical conviction that “There isn’t much left to do than pray for rain.”
The first half of the record- similar to this track- is bright in tone and spirit. It isn’t until side B makes its rounds where Mould starts digging for sorrow and embodying darkness in his themes and melodic execution. “Black Confetti”, one of the album’s more lightless additions, is expansive, shadowy, and atmospheric. Isolating Mould’s vocals behind impenetrable walls of guitar, everything he sings sounds lost and desperate; “trying to find truth within the noise” as he proclaimed on “Voices In My Head”. The closing track “Monument” slows things down significantly, casting shadows over every word and gradually burning down to the explosive wick as Mould “keep[s] searching, hoping, waiting for the sun that always shines so bright on everyone.”
The introspection that Patch The Sky revolves around is dark and anguish laden, but also thrilling and absolutely infectious if you let it get to your head. These are songs that- if played loud enough- are capable of patching the sky while also sustaining their own atmosphere. Turn them up, embrace the carefully crafted noise that Bob Mould has shed, and make sense of the demons within it.
Listen to: “Pray For Rain”, “Black Confetti”, “Losing Time”, and “Monument”
Patch The Sky is out now via Merge Records.