If you thought Bob Mould's angst-ridden solo debut, Workbook, was a blast of heavy weather, you'll need a steel umbrella to withstand the torrential distortion and gale-force rage of Black Sheets of Rain. This album contains none of Workbook's pensive acoustic eloquence or diligent guitar orchestration. Black Sheets of Rain is nothing more, or less, than a long, loud howl of pain – blinding anger, unremitting loveache, debilitating loneliness – broadcast from power-trio hell.
But like the machine-gun melancholy that distinguished Mould's half of the Hüsker Dü songbook, this is the kind of high-volume torment and emotional open-heart surgery that hurts so good. "Is there an upside/To every downside?" Mould asks despairingly in the opening title track, only to answer his own question with an overdubbed assault of clenched-fist guitars and shivering feedback screams. "Stop Your Crying" is a stunning, funereal stomp that explodes with serrated circular riffing, careening solo breaks and a manic, strangled vocal, escalating into a climactic frenzy that roars like a fiercely compressed version of the haywire coda to John Lennon's "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." And the album's big, bloodletting finish, "Sacrifice/Let There Be Peace," sounds like Richard Thompson in hell, a kind of slam-dance "Shoot Out the Lights" hammered out industrial-waltz style by the returning Workbook rhythm devils, drummer Anton Fier and Pere Ubu bassist Tony Maimone.
Rock & roll catharsis, postpunk or otherwise, doesn't get much better than this. It's not exactly sweet release, though. Mould discovers little in the way of hope or emotional fulfillment in his misery expeditions here, other than the kinds that come from just walking away or letting go. The most upbeat song on the record is "Out of Your Life," a bright, bouncy rocker with a punky, coltish kick and a snappy Sixties Brit-pop chorus (sort of Buzzcocks meets Badfinger) that belie Mould's bleak lyrical mood: "I ain't got a life all alone/And the one I got with you could kill me."
Yet for all of its volcanic distortion and blatant suicidal desperation, Black Sheets of Rain is really about the hurt that eventually leads to discovery. "So I've been driving far and wide to find my call in life/Been looking for a place where I belong/I guess a little pain never killed anyone," Mould admits, rather matter-of-factly, in the otherwise pulverizing "Hanging Tree." This record is the sound of Mould cranking up and just sweating it out. Source: [RollingStone.com]
Bob Mould & No Age - I Apologize
1. Black Sheets of Rain
2. Stand Guard
3. It's Too Late
4. One Good Reason
5. Stop Your Crying
6. Hanging Tree
7. The Last Night
8. Hear Me Calling
9. Out of Your Life
11. Sacrifice - Let There Be Peace