Bob Mould: "The Descent"
By Maura McAndrew | 13 August 2012
After years of experimentation with different genres (electronica, among others), on “The Descent” Bob Mould is returning to the more rock ’n’ roll, hook-heavy sound that he hasn’t really immersed himself in since Sugar in the mid-‘90s. Perhaps the recent reissue of Sugar’s catalog kickstarted a renaissance. Or perhaps “The Descent” is just a crumb tossed to fans, and the rest of Silver Age will be all drum machines, strings, and vocoders. Either way, this track kicks ass.
“The Descent” begins on an odd note, as Mould sings in his unchanging, nasally staccato way, “I started out so starry-eyed / So full of hope and wonder.” Really, Bob? That… doesn’t seem right. “The Descent” does possess an indefatigable upbeatness, despite ostensibly being about “going down,” hitting bottom, and all things much more comfortably Mould-ian than “hope and wonder.” The song takes flight immediately at the beginning and, contrary to its title, actually seems to reach greater heights as it progresses. This is Hüsker Dü caliber melodic rock, full of soaring hooks and that familiar waltz of a chorus: slow, slow, fast, fast. There’s a hint of desperation, as Mould begs, “Can I try to make it up to you somehow?” and closes out with the refrain, “My world / It is descending,” but a brooding track this is not, really—it’s too much fun.
No matter what tack Mould takes on Silver Age, “The Descent” is one of the best singles of the year. So it’s time, for now, to kick back and rock out like it’s 1985, or at least 1994.