Workbook 25 [25th anniversary deluxe edition] - OMNIVORE
FILTER Grade: 82%
By Nevin Martell on February 24, 2014
Whatever people were expecting to hear from Bob Mould after he left Hüsker Dü, Workbook was probably not it. His 1989 first solo set mostly trades in the raging fury of his punkish roots for acoustic guitars, orchestral flourishes, delicate keyboard work and more intricate songwriting. Freed from the constraints and expectations of his career-making band, Mould seems comfortable exploring softer sonic structures. The lyrical tone is introspective—sometimes plaintive, occasionally hopeful, but always determined. These are the words of a man who knows where he has been, even as he grapples with where he wants to go next.
The collection has aged remarkably well. “See a Little Light” sounds even more jubilant, while the album’s most crunched-out alt-rawk moment, “Whichever Way the Wind Blows,” manages to come across like Jimmy Page jamming with the Hüskers. Extras include the Sugar-y power-pop B-side “All the People Know” and a 1989 concert taped at Chicago’s Cabaret Metro. The show features solo tunes, Dü tracks and a dirge-y, roiling cover of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Shoot Out The Lights” that wouldn’t have been out of place in Nirvana’s Unplugged set. Like Workbook itself, it’s a little unexpected—but it hits the mark dead-on.