I never listened to Hüsker Dü nor Sugar, and the only exposure I’ve had to Bob Mould’s solo work is a 7-inch single from his first album, Workbook.
So I can’t approach a review of Body of Song in context of his previous work. My credentials are insufficient.
I can, however, approach the album in terms of gay men who play rock music. Lesbians usually have a lock on the really good rock bands, ranging from the defunct Butchies to the gay-inclusive Sleater-Kinney. What do gay men have? Judas Priest and Pansy Division.
Insert requisite Seinfeld quote here. (“Not that there’s …”?)
Yes, you may now accuse me for having my priorities mixed up for liking Body of Song, primarily because a gay man actually recorded an indie rock album I would buy. Thing is, I have developed some terrible stereotypes about “my kind” based on some first-hand experience.
I’ve dated a number of guys who were clueless about the vibrancy of a music scene within their own city. If white men can’t jump, then gay men can’t rock. (They sure can dance, though.)
Body of Song, however, challenges me to face my own negative perception about gay men and rock music. Hell, it makes me eat crow.
The writing on Body of Song is taut — there isn’t a spot for filler anywhere. And for the most part, the album doesn’t let up on energy — “High Fidelity” is the only bonafide slow song on the album.
Mould also manages to throw in a bit of the dance club on a few tracks. “(Shine Your) Light Love Hope” and “I am Vision, I am Sound” take the vocoder effect so central to Cher’s “Believe” and slaps it over driving guitars.
A bit of teh Gay pops up on “Gauze of Friendship”. The song could conceivably be construed as a guy advising a woman friend about a man in her past, but the effect of Mould singing about another man isn’t lost on anyone who’s been there before.
Body of Song also manages to explore different facets of Mould’s ouvre. “Underneath Days” is immediately angry, whereas “Days of Rain” is tender. “Always Tomorrow” feels slightly futuristic, while “Beating Heart the Prize” begins ominously.
Body of Song is melodic, passionate rock music, certainly one of the most enjoyable albums of the past year.
I am glad Mould can face down my prejudices about my countrymen’s rock ‘n’ roll acumen. I just hope he isn’t an isolated case.