ROLLING STONE: Mould’s problem has always been that he’s understood so much and felt so much. That was most evident on the songs he chose from the middle of his career. Tunes like Sugar’s secretly lugubrious “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” (with its downright upbeat chorus) and the ponderous “Hoover Dam” found him making sense of all the conflicts within him. But those, along with two selections from his first solo album, 1989’s Workbook, also show off a sort of tenderness he’s outgrown. Against a backdrop of Roger McGuinn–influenced 12-string, he’d sung, “How can you qualify difference between a sin and a lie?” on “Sinners and Their Repentances,” which he made heavier last night. But in more recent years, he’s written songs like “Black Confetti,” which almost became a metal song in Brooklyn, on which he sings, “In my dreams you fade away from me/Through time, through space and emotion.” It’s a new perspective.
To complete the collage, he dedicated nearly a third of his set to songs by Hüsker Dü, the trend-setting post-hardcore band he cofounded four decades ago next month. In some ways, those songs were the most interesting to hear him sing now, since he grew so much in just eight years as a songwriter. That iteration of Bob Mould was contemplative like the Moulds of later years but a bit more like a raw nerve. Has there ever been a less sincere “I’m Sorry” than “I Apologize”? He was a Reagan protester on “In a Free Land,” a defeatist on “Makes No Sense at All,” a nostalgist on “Celebrated Summer” and an ironist when covering The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s theme song “Love Is All Around.” He was finding his footing then and when hearing these songs interspersed with his recent high-water marks, it shows how these songs predicted this. MORE