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(Older reviews archived alphabetically by artist name.)

  Bob Mould  
  Granary Music  
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I doubt Bob Mould sat down in his studio and thought to himself "I wonder how well I could remake Neil Young's Trans," but that is essentially what he has done here. It's almost eerie how close the two albums mimic each other, both in tone, style and "uber-respected rock god runs off and makes 'quirky' keyboard and synthesizer album" overview. To continue the freakiness, both albums feature a couple or three songs that just might be excellent rock songs if said rock god had deigned to record them as rock songs. Unfortunately, in both cases, the respective artists decided to throw caution (and better judgment) to the wind, opting instead for some sort of poorly defined "artistic growth."

Young later explained Trans as and attempt to somehow communicate both with and about his difficulties in caring for his disabled son, so only the hardest of hearts can continue to hold the record against him on anything but a nominal ground. Mould doesn't seem to have that escape clause. As far back as 1998's Last Dog and Pony Show Mould was clamoring about "finding new ways to make songs", going so far as to none-to-subtly define that album as the end as far as he and guitar rock were concerned.

Now, anyone who has paid even the slightest bit of attention to me over the last couple of years will know that I don't cut much slack for guitar artists who suddenly find a need to get all artsy and creative with a computer. It's not that I have anything against techno or electronic music per se, but that I just hate to see a potentially kick-ass song turned on its head just so the artist can say he was being artistic and "exploring new boundaries." And I'm not going to adjust my general point of view just because it's Bob Mould doing the exploration.

There is no good reason whatsoever that Soundonsound or Comeonstrong shouldn't absolutely rock. (There's also no good reason whatsoever for there not to be spaces in between the words of the titles, either.) But they don't. They approach rocking, but then they inevitably twiddle away into not rocking at all, all for the sake of art. It's a sad day when rock gets pushed aside for art.

All in all I'm going to give Modulate 3 sponges. It's okay at times, and if the listener weren't a big Bob Mould fan to begin with they might find something special or worthwhile on the album. Personally, I'm listening to Black Sheets of Rain right now, just to get Lost Zoloft out of my head. But that's just me, you know.

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