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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Bob Mould
Body of Song
Yep Roc Records

Rating: 4/10 ?

August 1, 2005
Bob Mould has always relied on his passion to communicate with listeners. He conflates the personal and political to condense a complete approach to life into a single song, and he describes these approaches with a plainspoken vigor that suggests a personal investment in his subjects. Mould's songs become, then, lifestyle statements, and it's his passion - his awkward rasp, his trembling guitars - that justifies him in allowing his art to so consciously reflect ethos. He's become a legend because, unlike countless other punks and ham-fisted songwriters, he's been able to make his passion into an ineffable presence, a positive fact that exists just as much on the other side of the speakers as it does on his end.

Though he's no longer shouting "Your heroes always die," Mould still pours his heart and soul into every song. Even Sugar's ballads and his more stripped-down solo efforts crackle with fiery emotion, the kind that transforms ordinary chords into the stuff of anthems. Theoretically, Body of Song should play to Mould's most winning qualities as it features some of his most rocking songs since File Under: Easy Listening. Even when he's letting his guitar buzz and build to swirling climax, though, Mould grasps for maturity throughout this album, aching to create a song that draws energy from something other than his aching. Body of Song collapses under an unnecessary sense of restraint, ultimately sounding no better than its embarrassing predecessor, Modulate.

Speaking of Modulate, Mould continues to draw from his recent interest in DJ culture on a pair of songs. "(Shine Your) Light Love Hope" is an unabashed dance song, complete with high hat, vocoder and an electronic pulse. Mould sings a simple mantra above his loops in a manner not too dissimilar to Cher's on "Believe." Suffice it to say, it's not the album's brightest moment. A chant and electronics also power "I Am Vision, I Am Sound," with the song's title sounding particularly hackneyed in Mould's machine-manipulated warble.

Smaller electronic flourishes populate the rest of the album, sounding like tacked-on and phoned-in stabs at layered pop composition. The last thing lyrics like "Days of rain/Watch the river of tears roll by" need, however, is more ornamentation. Whereas Mould has gotten away with trite sentiments in the past by converting them into raw energy, his attempts at refined songcraft leave his words sounding like the stuff of an old rocker gone soft. Shit, maybe Matador was right in calling Paste's readership Yep Roc-listening yuppies - that's about the only audience that this album seems capable of resonating with.

Wussing out alone is no reason to dismiss an album, though. Body of Song truly falters in its inability to successfully blend two sensibilities. Rock powerhouses "Circles" and "Paralyzed" do an admirable job of merging Mould's post-hardcore roots with his nuanced pop aspirations, but the songs that drift further towards the pop end of his aesthetic don't pack enough passion to support Mould's lyrics. Just as ex-members of emo bands often release sub-par indie-pop or alt-country albums because they insist on shoehorning their juvenile angst into a form that doesn't complement it, Mould struggles to cram his throbbing heart and pumping fist into more sophisticated spaces. Instead of true synthesis, we're left with an unappetizing salad with no dressing.

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan



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