Bob Mould (photo by Alicia J. Rose, courtesy of Nasty Little Man, PR)
Patch The Sky
Bob Mould adds another chapter to his groundbreaking career with Patch The Sky, his eleventh solo studio album. Patch The Sky finds Mould looking inward again, mining his emotions for inspiration. It's a bracing collection of cathartic songs as Mould stares down the darkness and discovers an inner strength. This is territory that Mould has explored in the past, but here he delves a little deeper in his quest for self-realization.
Mould has written that after a few emotionally challenging years and the difficult loss of his parents, he sought solitude last year in an attempt to find his "own truth." This period allowed him to write songs that became, in his words, his salvation. Mould's last album, 2014’s Beauty & Ruin, was influenced by his father’s passing and the liner notes of Patch The Sky conclude with, "Rest in peace, Mom." These deaths, along with the ending of relationships and the onset of middle age, loom large in Patch The Sky, but the album isn't dour, but a life-affirming experience.
“Voices In My Head” sums up Mould’s mindset. In it, he sings the lines like, “I decide to listen to the voices in my head" or, “Say goodbye, time to say farewell/to all the ghosts and demons and all the words they said/I decide to listen to myself.”
In “Monument,” he reflects on the role his music plays while coming to terms with his psyche, singing: “I try to be happy every day/I never ever learn/But that’s my way.” Both "Voices In My Head" and "Monument" act as the bookends of Patch The Sky. Between them are ten more ruminations in which Mould tears away at the black with a driven passion.
There’s strength and purpose in every note on Patch The Sky. Mould puts his foot on the accelerator as if he’s trying to beat down his demons by force. Songs like “Daddy’s Favorite” and “Hands Are Tied” are punishing rockers and good examples of this tactic. “Pray For Rain" is a brilliant piece of blazing power pop displaying Mould’s knack for pairing lyrically dark subject matter, in this case depression, with bright melodies.
Patch The Sky finds Mould working again with Superchunk and the Mountain Goats' drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy, who have been accompanying Mould over his most recent albums. Together, they form a power trio that has few peers. Mould has always excelled when playing in a guitar, bass and drums format, the configuration of both Hüsker Dü (1979-87) and Sugar (1992-96).
Patch The Sky finds Bob Mould at his artistic zenith, a high plateau he has been at for the past eight years, since 2008’s District Line. It’s a remarkable accomplishment for an artist who has been making music for nearly forty years.