Credit: James Richards IV
Credit: James Richards IV
The opening trio of songs on the album represent its thesis statement. The stark, solo acoustic “Heart On My Sleeve” finds a weary-sounding Mould taking stock: “The left coast is covered in ash and flames/keep denying the winds of climate change/the Deep South sinking into the sea/but you don’t believe me.” Seconds after its conclusion, the full band kicks in with the pummeling, lightning-fast “Next Generation.” The singer describes it as “the clarion call: get off social media, maybe talk to your neighbors and if you feel really strongly, go down to city hall and let them know what you think, as we’re supposed to do if we’re civic-minded.” Anchoring the opening set is “American Crisis,” with its repeated line, “this American crisis keeps me wide awake at night.”
The album’s themes continue across relentlessly aggressive but melodic sounds from start to finish. A particular highlight is the catchy “Siberian Butterfly,” complete with a sing-along chorus.
With a record out that he couldn’t tour behind during the pandemic, the artist spent some time looking backward—for his business. Mould assembled box sets, collectively called “Distortion,” that chronicled his solo career from 1989 to date. “Honestly, the last couple of years haven’t been my most creative time,” he confirms. “It feels like I’ve been doing a lot of administrative work, archiving work. So 2020 was one of those years that did not lend itself to my normal creative space. There was a lot of planning of tours and then rescheduling tours, and that was pretty stressful.”
Mould has begun to write again, though. While noting he has “a handful of good things,” he is adamant that he has “been doing this long enough to know that I don’t want to force myself to write a record because I’ve been in that position before.” Citing the 1994 Sugar album “File Under: Easy Listening” as an example of rushing something into recording and production with results that didn’t satisfy him, he concludes that he “learned from rushing the writing process that I don’t want to rush it just to get another record.”
One thing not in the works, at least for now, is a follow-up to Mould’s highly regarded 2011 memoir, “See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody.” While noting he has plenty of subject matter, he has a few reasons for being disinclined to write another book.
One is the emotional toll the first one took, connected to his general preference for looking forward rather than backward. Another is based on his observations about the culture of 2022, which includes the realization that many are essentially writing the equivalent of autobiographies and putting them online in real time.
“I don’t know if there’s much of an interest in autobiographies or memoirs at the moment,” he adds, “because we’re all so wrapped up in the unfortunate monopolization of our time and energy with the state of the country, and the state of the world.”
Mould continues to find inspiration in new music, naming new releases from Bartees Strange, Idles, Toro y Moi, Interpol and The Armed among his favorites. He’s certainly glad to be back in front of audiences again. And the combination of “Blue Hearts” material with a decades worth of other songs—Hüsker Dü, Sugar and solo alike—should make for a stellar evening at City Winery on Wednesday.
Bob Mould with H.C. McEntire
8 p.m., Oct. 12. $30-$42. City Winery, Ponce City Market, 650 North Ave. NE. For tickets and more information, visit citywinery.com/atlanta.