Circa 1998, former Husker Dü/Sugar front-person Bob Mould announced he was through with “electric band” performing. Silver Age, Mould’s first solo album since ’09’s Life and Times, reveals the fact that he remains plugged in (literally and figuratively) to loud, emotion-laden rock ‘n’ roll. With bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster, Mould re-embraces the power trio format in which he’s excelled in times past. “Star Machine” is an angry, scathing indictment of a fellow musician’s selling out to the bitch-goddess known as Success. Mould’s voice is still rich with restlessness and righteous bile, his guitar sound still thick and massive as a steel girder. Note, too, the vaguely Byrds-like guitar chiming in the roaring, psychedelically tinged “Round the City Square.” The title tune slams in a manner similar to the recent works of the Buzzcocks — comely pop hooks, grinding guitars, a big beat, and tough-yet-vulnerable singing. “Steam of Hercules” has a dense, swirling production and a forlorn melody that evokes The Beatles circa The White Album (think “Dear Prudence”).
The upside: At age 51, Mould is still focused and inspired as ever, and not coasting on bygone glories. (You listening, John Lydon?) The downside: As good as this Silver Age is, the album still has a déjà vu feel about it. Some of these songs could be from Mould’s Sugar days — the power-chord-age throughout is awfully familiar. On its own terms, however, Age proves aging gracefully and rocking out aren’t mutually exclusive. (Merge)