Full disclosure. Bob Mould is probably my favorite artist of all time. From his early days in Husker Du, to his time fronting his band Sugar and throughout his many years as a solo artist, his music has always echoed precisely what was going on in my life at the time. Because of this, I’ve always felt an incredible affinity and toward Bob and his lyrics. Somehow, the man always seems to be speaking directly to my soul, and kicking me in the gut while doing it.
“Patch the Sky” is the last album in an unofficial trilogy of albums that included 2012’s “Silver Age”and the incredible “Beauty and Ruin”, which was released in 2014. The songs in this trilogy have addressed the growth of this man, his failures, heartaches, losses and epiphanies. But what strikes me about Mould is that while it’s clear that he is a man always battling against his demons, he always makes it through to the other side. Bob may never let go of his angst, but he seems to be coming to terms with his life and who he is. He appears to be growing more comfortable in his own skin.
In “Patch The Sky”, Bob does what he does best. Marries loud guitars and angry lyrics with catchy melodies that seem to take some of the sting out. Joined again by his longtime band, bassist Jason Narducy (Verbow, Split Single, Superchunk) and drummer Jon Wurster (Superchunk, Mountain Goats, Split Single), the trio has melded into a perfectly cohesive unit. They just work beautifully together.
Bob is a man that reflects on pain, but always seems to hold onto hope that love and salvation are out there. This is evident on the track Hold On (“Lovers I’ve lost, friends I’ve abandoned, it’s how I reclaim my darkest fears”). He seems to believe hope is there, even if it requires a pleading “Will you help me, please?”. Hope can also be found in the track “Losing Sleep” where he sings ” I keep hoping, searching,waiting for the sun that shines so bright on everyone”. You may have to dig around for it, but hope is there.
In “Pray for Rain”, the contradictory nature of some of Bob’s lyrics show up again. “I need you, release me, make me feel again.” Haven’t we all had a person in our lives that made us feel that way? I certainly have.That kind of trust, faith and understanding can be the most beautiful thing there is. Despite the darkness. And Bob, as usual, gets it.
The most reflective song of the album may be the opening track. In “Voices in My Head”, we hear a much more mature Bob Mould taking responsibility for the voices he chooses to believe. “Now I’m very conscious of the Voices in My Head, They multiply and amplify the fear. I can play the victim or get on with life instead, by finding resolution as they clear.”
While Bob Mould, at 55, has nothing left to prove, this album is a clear indictation that his guitar shredding and heart ripping lyrics are not something of the past. But coupled with the joyful noise he makes, maybe he’s finding a balance.
“Can I find some truth within the noise?” Mould asks. The answer is a resounding yes.