After releasing a couple of solo albums, Bob Mould formed another power trio. Unlike Hüsker Dü, where Grant Hart was an important songwriter and vocalist and Greg Norton was also central to the band’s sound, Sugar is Mould’s show; his two new recruits, bassist David Barbe and drummer Malcolm Travis, are unobtrusive and stay out of the limelight, although Barbe has gone on to a successful production career with the Drive-By Truckers. Sugar’s albums are better produced than Hüsker Dü’s and can be found in bargain bins everywhere; but I don’t think they’re a match for Hüsker Dü overall, missing the poppy counterpoint that Hart’s songs provided.
The best songs are when Mould steps furthest outside of the early 1990’s alternative conventions that this album is steeped in. Mould’s work in Hüsker Dü was a formative influence on much of the grunge/alternative movement in the early 1990s, so it’s just a natural progression for him to sound like this – but it’s the faux-classical keyboard break of ‘Hoover Dam’, the acoustic ‘If I Can’t Change Your Mind’, and the big sounding closer ‘Man On The Moon’ that are my favourite moments on Copper Blue.
Copper Blue is a solid album of songs, but it’s too unimaginative to rate among Bob Mould’s strongest output.