Bob Mould's 'Fu:el' needs a little more 'Sugar'

By Noah Lopez

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Sugar

File Under: Easy Listening

Rykodisc Records

To put it simply, Bob Mould still rocks.

Sugar, however, is no longer the dumping grounds for Mould's angst. While Sugar's first two releases, 1992's pop candy "Copper Blue" and last year's tormented EP "Beaster," had a motherload of pop hooks, beneath their surface lay lyric after anguished lyric of Mould's frustration. Not so with Fu:el.

In fact, Fu:el may be Mould's happiest album. There's just no denying the sheer positivity of such song titles as "Your Favorite Thing," "Gift" or "Gee Angel," and the lyrics are no letdown. "It's such a groovy thing/You're hating everything/I wouldn't want to be/Stuck in a room with you," Mould exclaims in "Granny Cool," a seeming indictment of Mould's former negativity.

In "Gee Angel," Mould tells a near religous parable of hope and satisfaction, while "Can't Help You Anymore" reverberates with Mould's proclamation, "I can't help you anymore/You can't hurt me anymore." If anything, Fu:el seems to be the final chapter to the themes that have haunted Bob Mould's music since the break up of Hsker D, and, some have said, the break up Hsker members Mould and drummer Grant Hart , themes of rejection and unrequited love.

Backing Mould's lyrics is the standard melodic crunch of Sugar. Mould lays his distorted, feedback-laden guitar over the solid rhythm section of David Barbe and Malcolm Travis, but for some reason it rings hollow on Fu:el. Fu:el's music doesn't seem quite as inspired as that on past Sugar outings, and songs tend to blend together undistinguishably. But the pop chops are still there for much of the album, and Fu:el stands out as another great chapter in Mould's discography.

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