Bob Mould has been releasing an impressive array of solo albums in the past decade, even at this later stage of his career. Mould is a veteran of the rock scene, who was previously at the helm of Hüsker Dü and Sugar in the 80’s and 90’s respectively. Both acts sonically ranging from to hardcore and power pop. There seems to be no slowing down for him, with his latest release Blue Hearts able to go toe-to-toe with the most fiery and propulsive releases of the year.
Fans would undoubtedly see the distinction between 2019’s Sunshine Rock and this latest offering. The former was fueled by optimism, while this was seemingly doused in red-hot fury and brimstone. Sparked by the social and political climate that’s been sweeping the country in the present day, this album rages with anger for a world that’s being complacent with all its current challenges. Issues like climate change, homophobia and a disdain for the government rings clear in these 14 tracks. Bob Mould is staring at the apocalypse, and he won’t leave without having something to say about it.
“Heart On My Sleeve” starts as the whole thesis of this LP. The choice of a stripped down acoustic guitar over vocals emphasizes his message: “The rising tide of our broken government / Golden bones start floating on cement / And we’re going to war / And we’re going to die.” The situation is getting dire, and we need to step up. Follow ups “Next Generation” and “American Crisis” give this initial message a one-two punch combination, with often chaotic, high-octane energy that climaxes in “Fireball”. These tracks hearkening back to Mould’s 80’s hardcore roots. Our world may have changed tremendously over the past decades, yet the crises that we face follow the same themes.
The second half of the album covers more somber and personal conflicts, something Mould tackles just as honestly and masterfully as his political songs. “Siberian Butterfly” embodies a message of growth, change and freedom to yourself as who you really are. “Everyth!ng to you” is inspirational alt-rock with shimmering guitars and great melodic hooks. “Password to My Soul” has one of my favorite lyrics of the year: “We turn to music when our hearts are filled with doubt / I hold the hope this world will line itself somehow.”. Indeed, there is much to doubt in our world today, but thankfully we still have a lot to hold on to.
Blue Hearts is a solid album both thematically and sonically, and can be easily seen as one of Moulds best albums in recent years. A great addition to your protest-playlist.