Bob Mould on “Blue Hearts” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, May 29th, 2024  

Bob Mould on “Blue Hearts”

A Blue Wave of Change

Feb 18, 2021 Issue #67 - Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney Photography by Blake Little Bookmark and Share

Bob Mould’s last album, 2019’s Sunshine Rock, was a string-laden guitar album that found the artist, who had recently relocated to Berlin, actively pursuing brighter, more positive upbeat songcraft. But one song written during that time, “American Crisis,” was an antithesis to the others. The track, the first released from his new album Blue Hearts, was a rage-filled two-and-a-half minute screed that tackled current events back in his home country, with lyrics such as, “Wake up every day to see a nation in flames,” and “World turning darker every day in a fucked up USA.”

“The intent was to have it on Sunshine Rock, but the lyrics were so heavy, I thought I’d just hold on to it,” says Mould from his current home in San Francisco. “Then I came back to the States and was horrified at how things were going here, and that sort of fit into the motif that I already had in my head with ‘American Crisis.’”

Blue Hearts is a very different album from Sunshine Rock. Over 14 tracks, all but one of which is under three minutes, the album is as punk rock a political statement as Mould has ever written. Mould wrote most of the music while he was living in Berlin, and the lion’s share of the words came after he had returned to America. The resulting album, recorded with long time bandmates Jason Narducy (bass) and Jon Wurster (drums), finds Mould sounding as fiery and immediate as he’s sounded on anything since Sugar’s landmark Copper Blue and its darker follow up EP Beaster. But for inspiration, Mould reaches back even further.

“Spiritually, my touchstone would be the fall of 1983, which was being on the road with Hüsker Dü and getting ready to record Zen Arcade,” says Mould. “That was where my head was at. In the fall of ’19, when I was in Berlin, everything was starting to feel like the fall of ’83 again. The third year of a televangelist president, and all that stuff that was so eerily similar. I took moments with myself to look back and think, ‘Who was I then?’ Twenty-two, going on 23. Gay. Closeted. Sort of homeless. Not homeless; I had a couch to sleep on sometimes. Just doing this thing with passion. Not editing myself. Just letting the shit come out.”

Mould speaks starkly about the current state of the United States, from police violence to “centuries of inequality and inequity and racism that need to be corrected,” and he has harsh words about then-President Donald Trump (“He’s a racist. He’s a liar.”), to whom he attributes much of the current crisis as he sees it. Yet he is also hopeful for the future and the youth of America who will be inheriting it.

“I’m a realist in the hardest sense of realism, so I tend to be pessimistic,” says Mould. “But I have incredible hope right now for what’s about to happen. Because we can’t take any more of this. We’ve got to fix this. Old white men have got to let go of power and hope that it works out for the best, and I know it will. Change is here.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 67 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

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