After the breakup of Hüsker Dü, Bob Mould went in a different direction with his solo debut. According to his biography, he’d been listening to a lot of Richard Thompson, and accordingly, much of Workbook is in a folk-based vein, not unlike the acoustic songs that he’d contributed to 1986’s Candy Apply Grey. Mould recruited Pere Ubu’s rhythm section to help, but otherwise Workbook is stripped down; the only other instrumentalist is Jane Scarpantoni, who contributes some pretty cello parts.
The more upbeat pieces are akin to power pop, like the jangly ‘See A Little Light’ and the pretty ‘Wishing Well’, with its prominent cello parts. Despite the overall acoustic sound, Workbook closes with the ultra-heavy ‘Whichever Way The Wind Blows’, which dispenses with melody altogether and might be the most intense piece that Mould’s ever recorded. There’s also a beautiful opener ‘Sunspots’, and pretty melodic folk material like ‘Brasilia Crossed With Trenton’.
After spending years thrashing his Flying V, Bob Mould was able to immediately establish his solo career with a different musical style, and Workbook contains some of his strongest songs.