Sugar: Copper Blue (1992)

After the break-up of Hüsker Dü, Bob Mould released a pair of perfectly fine solo albums, but Copper Blue felt like the triumphant resurfacing of an old friend, a return to the power trio format and a huge batch of big, boomy, rock and roll.  While the interplay between Mould's more straightforward rockers and Hüsker Dü drummer Grant Hart's more bubblegum-infused pop was sorely missed, Sugar compensated with a tighter, denser sound (damn, how I wish those Hüsker Dü albums would be remastered to sound a little more like this...).  And Mould crafted a surprising number of poppy yet hard-hitting tunes.

There are a number of stand-outs that still hold up well a quarter-century later:  The jangly, power pop single "If I Can't Change Your Mind" is probably one of the best stand-alone songs Mould has ever offered, but you've also got the dense, catchy pop-rock of "Helpless"; the Pixies-like (ok, VERY Pixies-like) loud-quiet-loud dynamic of the dark and disturbing "A Good Idea"; the Hüsker throwback post-punk noise-pop of "Changes"; and the complex, almost proggy lookback at Mould's solo work, "Hoover Dam."  But really, it's pretty consistent start to finish, even the couple weaker tracks not all that bad.

In some ways this feels just a bit dated, with a distinctly 90s slickly-produced alt.rock sound, and these days I tend to overlook it in favor of other albums from the period (i.e. Pavement and Luna both released their debut albums that year).  But the songs are undeniably great, a huge showcase for Mould's ability to devise a brilliant hook and back it with some serious oomph.  (The deluxe remaster throws in a few nifty outtakes and a bonus live show, a terrific package.)

Here's the video for "If I Can't Change Your Mind":
 And here's the video for "Helpless":
Here's Mould rocking his way through a live "A Good Idea":