Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Shawn Biggs and Mike Gentry
It's scary that a nearly 50-year-old man can still feel this way because those of us in our early 30s and late 20s feel as if it's been ages since these grating and splitting, nasty and upheaving emotional strains affected us so devastatingly, so fully and unconditionally. To have the heart (whether that's the muscle or the idea of it or the glorified fiction of what it's supposed to be and how it's supposed to be treated, like a caterpillar or a savory dessert) taken for a blistering and gruesome rending is something that is one way as a younger person and a different way as someone who's become, not used to the process, but more experienced with the process. Bob Mould, the smooth-headed songwriter and former founding member of both Husker Du and Sugar, is a guy who still gets his heart ripped clean from his body (it seems as if it's either very often or just very traumatic in a reverberating and taunting sort of cruelty), held in front of his face and then trampled upon by one or two dastardly spiteful and cold feet. It's left there for him to fork up off the sidewalk or the bedroom floor. He pokes it and attempts to bring it back from the dead, but from the sound of things on Life and Times, his latest record on Anti, this is a losing battle. He comes to realize that this thing of his, this lump of mush and red and spongy gunk is beyond repair and the only thing that it's good for is inspiring the despair that feels like stark nothingness, but with flames and burn marks ringing it. Mould is a dramatically wounded man on Life and Times. He's wrecked and demoralized many times over and it tends to sound as if he's feeling these daggers and gashes the way someone newly versed in the sad end of this sort of one-sided, I'm taking my love away from you forever exchange. It's a rebirth, in a way, back to when what it meant to be loved, to have fallen for someone was the apex of everything that a young person knew, when life revolved around the health of this teenage affair. All of the groping and kissing, the touching and the exploring was altogether fresh and exciting and there was nothing better than the goodness that came of it. There was also nothing more devastating than when it evaporated into ribbons and just disintegrated into empty shadows and sour refrains. Mould, through a more mature indignation and bitterness toward the offending lover, shakes himself up good and lowers the needle to his wrists and palms, lying there outstretched and silently pleading, asking, "Why the fuck did this happen to me again? Why the fuck?" and the words echo and cut through a bountiful pain, leaving an emotional trail of anger and disappointment that seems to say, "Here was another person who didn't turn out to be who I would have liked him to be, a person whom I thought was different and would be that one to grow older with. And here I lie, again, a real mess of a person." It will make no one nostalgic for those days when these hurtful passes and everyday kind of breakups were happening, when nothing seemed to make sense and all of the attempts at love were poorly executed at best. It will remind you that there is nothing like the real thing, the connection between two people that allows them the sanctity of happiness. Comfort came be found in another person, but you're going to pay for it - for that long, jagged and winding path toward to it.
Bob Mould Official Site