After the leap forward of Zen Arcade, 1985’s New Day Rising felt like a slight disappointment. The opening title track consists of Bob Mould repeating the title over and over alongside a fuzzy guitar riff. The guitar fuzz is very pronounced on this album, making it a hard listen initially. Some tracks such as I Apologize and I Don’t Know What You’re Talking About are almost mod-punk, with Mould sounding like Weller in his Jam days. There are some fine performances here, Mould riffs hard on Folk Lore over 96 seconds and Grant Hart belts out If I Told You over more fine riffs.
Celebrated Summer is the longest song here at four minutes and represents something of a centerpiece. It’s a classic rock sounding anthem with a pretty melody played at breakneck speed by Mould’s fuzzy, punky guitars. The song is broken up by some acoustic guitar midway through and at the end, heightening its anthemic qualities. The song leads into one of the more relaxed tracks here, the relatively subdued Perfect Example, which sounds like it might pave the way for Wedding Present. Elsewhere, Terms of Psychic Warfare is like Dylan gone fuzz-punk before 59 Times The Pain heads back into more complex territory, the band showing good grasp of dynamics, plodding along through the verse before sprinting into the chorus, then slowing down again.
Powerline is one of the stronger tracks here, riffing hard at breakneck speed for 2 minutes before easing off the throttle for final few seconds of the outro. Some tracks don’t really work, Books About UFOs is a little too jaunty, while the demented How To Skin A Cat starts with the sound of a knife being sharpened before descending into aural chaos.
Towards the end the album harks back to their earlier material, as if to prove they can still rock harder than anyone else as in the 93 seconds of Whatcha Drinkin’ and power-speed-riffola of Plans I Make. It’s an interesting but at times exhausting listen.