Mouldiana (5)
By: James Parker | Categories: Pop Music, Read-outs

WHO NEEDS TO DREAM?

Fifth in a series of posts, coauthored by James Parker and Tommy Valicenti, singer/guitarist with the Boston rock band Mount Peru, parsing the solos of Bob Mould. Series intro here.

From District Line.

2008: District Line. No longer tortuously partnered, no longer trapped-sounding, rageful, Bob is a swinging gay man, a happy bear, out and about and digging his senior rock status. Is this record as good as Zen Arcade? Er, no. But things change, dammit, Bobs change, and “Who Needs To Dream?” is a pearl of grown-up-ness, proudly sharing its title with a ballad from Barry Manilow’s Copacabana. Yes, it choogles tastefully along and conspicuously fails to blow holes in your brainpan. Yes, we’re damning it with faint praise. But listen if you can, you leather-ear’d punk rocker, to how lovely it is: effortless, resigned vocals, half-asleep melody, and a solo… Well, we’ll get to the solo. Before that, let us note that while Sugar’s Malcolm Travis played the drums like he was hammering fenceposts, here Brendan Canty (ex-Fugazi) lopes easily across the Bob-strum, lending a looseness latterly absent. (Alliteration.) Also: Bob’s been DJing at the clubs, and for all the plainness of its groove there’s a kind of dancefloor drift to this number, a non-rock suspension.

We chose this solo to close our series because it is an outrage of mellowness. While still being Bob. It’s the “Tilted” solo played by Lindsey Buckingham, essentially: layering, harmonic overdrive, a distant gnawing of sitars, but aimed at sweetness rather than chaos. Cosmic Byrdsian ripples, enhanced by synth. End of the road for MOULDIANA: through suffering and screaming amps we have travelled, through tiltings and regression, to this spangled lucidity. Drink it in.

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Co-written by Tommy Valicenti. Parker and Valicenti also collaborated on the series ANGUSONICS, which parsed the solos of AC/DC’s Angus Young.

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READ other HiLobrow series: ANGUSONICS — the solos of Angus Young | ARTIST IN RESIDENCE — HiLobrow’s favorite artists | BICYCLE KICK | THE BOOK IS A WEAPON — a gallery | CABLEGATE COMIX | CECI EST UNE PIPE — a gallery | CHESS MATCH — a gallery | DE CONDIMENTIS — a world-secret-historical take on ketchup, mustard, relish, and more | DIPLOMACY — a world-conquest boardgame musical | DOTS AND DASHES — a gallery | DOUBLE EXPOSURE — the stratagems of Middlebrow | EGGHEAD — a gallery | EPIC WINS — our versions of epic poems | FILE X — a gallery | FITTING SHOES — famous literary footwear | GOUDOU GOUDOU — adventures in Haiti | KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM — 25 Jack Kirby panels | LATF HIPSTER | MERIT BADGES — earn ’em! | MOULDIANA — the solos of Bob Mould | PANTENE MEME — a found gallery | PHRENOLOGY — the insane origin of browism | PLUPERFECT PDA — time-traveling smartphones! | POP ARCANA — spelunking weird culture | REBOOTING MUSEUMS | ROPE-A-DOPE — boxing | SECRET PANEL —Silver Age comics’ double entendres | SHOCKING BLOCKING — cinematic blocking | SKRULLICISM | UKULELE HEROES

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James Parker is a contributing editor at The Atlantic.