Bob Mould – Workbook (1989)

The collision of acoustic guitars layered over crashing drums….. the dynamics of loud moments and quiet ones living on either side of a wall but under the same roof of a song. The haunted whine of his vocals and harmonies; the crispy but not-too-slick production. This album has it all.

This album has texture. It has moods. And the cool album cover, with the blue title lettering that I’ve always thought matches the music perfectly. Oh yea, and great songwriting. The songs are strong, without which the rest of what I described wouldn’t mean a damn thing.

Workbook has a 2-minute instrumental “intro” track (“Sunspots”) that leads nicely into the first actual song (track 2 “Wishing Well”) and it really sounds like a perfectly placed first song, if that makes sense. The occasional string arrangements are always haunting, never cheesy. And you really cant go wrong with such great song titles as “Sinners and Their Repentances” and “Compositions for the Young and Old.” Sure, the last track is a bit of a throwaway for me; it’s D-tuned distortion and screaming seem a bit out of place… but it’s a sonic blast to remind us that despite all the acoustic guitars laying around in his living room, Bob Mould still rocked like Nirvana before Nirvana existed.

I’ve never really been into Husker Du or Sugar (Mould’s two bands that sandwich his early solo stuff), but I’ve loved this Workbook album since I was working in a record store when it was released and was lucky enough to be introduced to it.
So I made a point to meet up with it again and it seems we still get along quite well.

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