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New Musical Express, 09 Mar 1985

Review of New Day Rising.

[Transcribed by Zvia Admon.]

New Day Rising Review

by Don J. Watson
These are fast times that we live in, something that dawned upon Hüsker Dü long before 'New Day Rising' glimpsed the light. They keep a breathless, occasionally frantic pace with all the strains involved. Although they shatter barriers of sound, they never seem to break the boundaries of their native land. Hüsker Dü, like Sonic Youth in their way or (for all their petulant protestations) The Swans in theirs, are unavoidably American - the dust of their mid-West heimat is lodged deep within the creases between every chord.
It's ironic, in these days of gun-toting, culture-popping, born-again Damn de diddle Yankeeism, that the imagery of the mid-West through to New Mexico should have such appeal. Even those more stateless than I seem somehow drawn to the sandy wastes and cramped psyches that (in our minds at least) have altered little since the age of Faulkner - 'Tupelo' from the forthcoming Nick Cave LP, shows our favourite exile burying deeper still into smalltown Americana. But where Cave is always Malcom Lowry's man apart, Hüsker Dü, like Sam Shepard's truck-saddle sore wanderes, are more at home around here. Their journey, for all its personal detail, is more outward going.
Hüsker Dü are three, but it's the huge guitar of the large Bob Mould that swells to fill their wide-screen soundscape. The sound of his six strings has the same evocative qualities as Ry Cooder's - where the sound of Cooder is the sound of the scorched New Mexico desert, or the Louisiana swamp, Mould's is the dust grain swirl of the wide open spaces, where words are scattered like roadside cafes, domestic traumas bursting inside while the litter whirls around the gas pumps outside.

Mould himself is one of the great blue-collar endomorphs. As pictured in NME's hardcore issue, collared T-shirt straining against a blubbery figure, grin bubbling through a broad face, the bottle-neck peeping from the brown paper bag in hand, he looks like he could have a heart to match his waist band, probably paired with a clout to clot your brain cells. Prod him and he'd wobble, but push him and....

Mould, it should be clear by now, is no slight man, bolstering his ego with a barrage of guitar. His sound, however large, feels like an extension of himself. It's grand but never grandiose. his singing, even more so on 'New Day Rising' than on it's predecessor 'Zen Arcade', sometimes has the wrenched defiance of the cornered, sometimes the strange fragility of 16 tons of sensitivity.

So, 59 times the pain, 100 times the feeling, 1000 times the space. This is the big country - for real.

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