For all the talk of Bob Mould's return to form—i.e. alternative guitar-rock—on 2005's Body Of Song, the album had plenty of the electronic elements that alienated longtime fans on 2002's Modulate. Mould simply grew more adept at blending them with the sound he'd crafted in Hüsker Dü, Sugar, and as a solo artist. But Body Of Song was a victory for fans, since it proved Mould had made peace with his past.
The good vibes—relatively speaking—continue on District Line, Mould's first for Anti-. It plays much like a continuation of Body Of Song, with the electronic elements even more streamlined and less obtrusive, save on the all-electronic "Shelter Me." More importantly, though, it features numerous moments that practically warrant "Mould™": the jarring chorus of the opener, "Stupid Now" (Mould's best song in years); the 12-string guitar in "Walls In Time" (written for 1989's Workbook, but unreleased until now); and the Sugar-esque "Return To Dust." It also wouldn't be a Mould album without a downer relationship song, "Again And Again": "a sad attempt at poetry / a sad attempt at happiness / the sadness of reality." But this being the new Mould, he follows that with "I'm okay / I've been okay / I stay okay." Artists may write their best stuff when they're miserable, but Mould continues to prove that happiness provides plenty of good material, too.