Copper Blue


Rykodisc Records, 1992

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


After the demise of the Minneapolis punk band Husker Du, lead vocalist/guitarist Bob Mould went out and proved that he was a serious musician with his two solo albums - never the mind he had started to prove this near the end of Husker Du's career.

With the formation of his power trio Sugar, it almost seemed like Mould wanted to merge his new style with the power he gave up with Husker Du. Their debut, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Copper Blue, has some very good moments, but like many first attempts, it falls flat more often than not.

Punk this is not - this is more power pop than anything. The first song, "The Act We Act," is proof of this. The solid drum work of Malcolm Travis and subtle bass work of David Barbe seem to be perfect foils for the angry, jangling guitar of Mould.

But the tide turns with "A Good Idea," a song which doesn't seem to jell very well. The chorus grows annoying quickly, and is not one of Mould's better moments as a songwriter.

The first "single" of note, "Helpless," is one of the band's best songs - a catchy refrain and vocals in perfect harmony. This sounds like what Mould was trying to accomplish after Husker Du.

The success continues with songs like "Hoover Dam," "Man On The Moon," and the alternative radio hit "If I Can't Change Your Mind" - the album's shining jewel. I have listened to that song more times than I'd like to admit when I was down.

But a successful album is made up of more than four songs, and Copper Blue is just not able to maintain the level of perfection these tracks set up. They're not bad songs, but tracks like "Changes" and "The Slim" just fail to go anywhere.

This may be unfair criticism for a band that had not been together for a long time prior to the recording of Copper Blue, but these are no newcomers to the recording studio. Mould knows what makes a good song, and he misses the mark on many of these - though he does come close.

Copper Blue has some very solid moments, but in the end, it is a record that could have benefited from another coat of paint and some more work on the songwriting. There is enough material that justifies picking this one up - but approach it with caution.

Rating: B-

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rykodisc Records, and is used for informational purposes only.