For New Day Rising, the follow-up to their breakthrough double-album Zen Arcade, Hüsker Dü replaced concept with conciseness, concentrating on individual songs delivered as scalding post-hardcore pop. New Day Rising is not only a more vicious and relentless record than Zen Arcade, it's more melodic. Bob Mould and Grant Hart have written tightly crafted, melodic pop songs that don't compromise Hüsker's volcanic, unchecked power. Mould and Hart's songs owe a great deal to '60s pop, as the verses and choruses ebb and flow with immediately catchy hooks. Occasionally, the razor-thin production and waves of noise mean that it takes a little bit of effort to pick out the melodies, but more often the furious noise and melodies fuse together to create an overwhelming sonic force. It's possible to hear the rivalry between Mould and Hart on the album itself -- each song is like a game of one-upmanship, as Mould responds to "The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill" with "Celebrated Summer." Neither songwriter slips -- both turn in songs that are catchy, clever, and alternately wracked with pain or teeming with humor. New Day Rising is a positively cathartic record and ranks as Hüsker Dü's most sustained moment of pure power.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine