Bob Mould: The Last Dog And Pony Show

Bob Mould: The Last Dog And Pony Show

Rock 'n' roll curmudgeon Bob Mould has recorded well over a dozen records in the past 17 years—first with the legendary Twin Cities punk trio Hüsker Dü, then solo, then with the Mould-and-two-other-guys band Sugar, then solo again. In recent years, his songwriting formula has seemed simpler and more apparent, and his last solo disc (1996's Bob Mould), while especially dark in tone and inexplicably marred by the presence of a drum machine, was awfully predictable: Built around (surprise!) chiming guitars, mile-wide hooks, bitter lyrics, and distinctive vocals, it's a great formula, but a formula nonetheless. Mould's new The Last Dog And Pony Show has the perfect response to that criticism: It's got 11 more fairly prototypical Mould tracks—complete with lots of Sugar-style production sparkle—and one experimental track, the electronically enhanced, pop-culture-referencing, seemingly Beck-inspired "Megamanic." The song is such a laughably ill-conceived goof, and Mould so far out of his element, that it's a joyous relief when it fades into "Reflecting Pool," which sounds like virtually every other great post-Hüsker Dü pop song he's written. The Last Dog And Pony Show mostly just treads water, dispensing bile and bitterness ("First Drag Of The Day," "Who Was Around?") and swollen anthems ("Classifieds," "Taking Everything") in equal measure. But it's still fantastic.

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