Album review: Bob Mould – Distortion: 1996 — 2007

U.S. alt.rock hero Bob Mould takes a look back at his brilliant career on 11-disc, eight-album retrospective…

In a just and fair world, one day the musical achievements of Bob Mould will receive a wider recognition – but it can wait for now. After all, the respected and selectively popular 60-year-old songwriter is surely more than fine with his left-of-centre profile and a body of work that does all the talking. Zen Arcade with the punk-ish Hüsker Dü (without whom there would be no [insert band name here]); Judas Cradle by Sugar, his second band; or the airborne and deliriously majestic Brasilia Crossed With Trent, from Workbook, his first solo album, from 1990. These are songs that span a wide expanse, but have at their core a yearning and a searching for something that, surely, cannot be found. 

And we could go on. Dependably prolific and as regular as a prune-based diet, the 11 LP box-set Distortion: 1996 – 2007 features no fewer than eight studio albums as well as, for the completist, 12 inches of castoffs and truly deep cuts. Spanning the period from the Bob Mould record to Blow Off, a decade later, this beautifully presented collection, also available in digital form, showcases its author in all his various shades and timbres — alternative, but not entirely; mainstream, but not quite.

It is, needless to say, good stuff indeed. From the bouncing Taking Everything to the hypnotic and patient Always Tomorrow, from the instrumental electronica of The Fall Collection to the propulsive Get Inside Me, this expansive set is ultimately a well-intentioned rumble between various styles of music from which Bob Mould usually emerges the winner. It must be nice, after more than four decades in the game, to be able to do whatever you like, however you choose to do it. Because wherever it is Mould resides, it is a deeply mined groove, and one that belongs to him alone.

Verdict: 4/5

For Fans Of: Foo Fighters, Hüsker Dü, Greg Dulli

Distortion: 1996 — 2007 is out on January 22 via Demon.

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Posted on January 18th 2021, 12:11p.m.
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