Bob Mould

Life and Times

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Based on its title, it's tempting to think of Life and Times as an autobiography, especially when armed with the knowledge that Bob Mould recorded this album while writing his actual autobiography (scheduled to hit stores in 2010). It's tempting, but not quite accurate, as this is less an orderly journey through the past than memories refracted through the prism of the present. Life and Times bears the unmistakable stamp of being latter-day Mould in how he consolidates his strengths, not embracing his electronica but not running away from it either, in how his writing has a casual, disarming frankness, particularly when recounting last night's sex on "Bad Blood Better." Still, there's no denying the reflective nature of Life and Times, how the past feeds the present in its subject and sounds, a description which suggests that this is a fragile, folky album, which isn't so -- this is Mould's purest pop since Sugar, its ballads surging with grace and its muscular songs built on skyscraper hooks. As immediate as Life and Times isn't nearly as diamond-hard as Copper Blue, which is a great part of its appeal: it flows naturally, the music never pushes, it settles, comfortable in its own skin.

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