Review Summary: Hüsker Dü marks the transition from hardcore/emocore to alternative rock. From self releasing to the major label world. But all in a very positive way.Candy Apple Grey
from 1986 marks Hüsker Dü
's "sellout" to the big nasty major label Warner Bros.
So, naturally, this album is supposed to be a terrible album. Well... sorry to disappoint you guys, but it ain't. It really ain't. Do you know how bands like Nirvana
ever could wind up at respectively Geffen
? Because of this very album here. This album album proves that it is possible for a punk band to go from the diy indie ethics of releasing the albums yourself, or on small indie labels - to a huge major label, without making a fool out of yourself! Actually, in quite a few's opinion - they do the exact opposite! You'll find emocore fans stating Zen Arcade
as Hüsker Dü's best album. You'll find hardcore fans stating Everything Falls Apart
as their best album. As for the "rest" - it's New Day Rising
, Flip Your Wig
and perhaps most commonly - Candy Apple Grey
Candy Apple Grey
is without a doubt the most radio-friendly album to derive from Hüsker Dü. That sentence alone might just be enough to make some of the hardcore fans' stomachs turn. But have no fear, it's only a temporarily stomach-turn. Once you've put the record on the gramophone - you'll find that: "Hey! This ain't altogether that bad!". No, it isn't. It's actually quite impressing, I must say. It begins with you getting pushed into a wail. Then punched in the face by a tremendous force, that is Bob Mould
's distinct way of playing the guitar.
And then it explodes. For a trio, they sound huge. And the sound is broader than ever. It's all still there. the basics I mean; there's still the thumpy drums being played slightly behind the beat, the malicious basslines that cooperate perfectly with the trashing guitar-riffs.
But there's something more to it, this time. It's broader and more melodic, than ever. It's sort of a total change of genre. It's a transition from hardcore/emocore to what is later to be known as alternative rock.
It sounds as frenetic, as passionate and as upset as ever... but it's also introverted, cold, and at times toned-down. There's even an acoustic guitar in the picture, as well as a piano. The songs "No Promise Have I Made", "Hardly Getting Over It" and "Too Far Down" are particularly... blue. And cold. And just downright sad. The acoustic guitar and piano makes a welcome change of sound, from the upbeat tracks on the record, who - by the way, are catchier and more passionate than ever.
There is some very strong songwriting present on this record. Bob Mould and Grant Hart
both outdo themselves.
The lyrics on this album is concerned with everything from breaking up in "Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely", to trying to sell ice cream in a theater (I have no idea if that's a metaphor, and in which case - what it's supposed to mean) in "Eiffel Tower High". In general it's all kind of blue and melancholic. But still damn catchy. You'll have yourself singing along to both "I Don't Know for Sure" and "Sorry Somehow" by the end of the tracks.
The production is also better, now that they're on Warner Bros. But it all sounds a little dirty, and not as commercialized as one would expect. Who's produced this album? None other than Bob Mould and Grant Hart themselves. So this is still diy and indie, up to a certain point. They're still in full artistic control, thanks to Warner Bros. who put their money where their mouth was - supporting a band they're not very likely to make any money on, but is admired in the musical industry. And for that I really respect Warner Bros. for being a label that is more engaged in MUSIC than in MONEY. This "full artistic control" contract is considered being a model for future alternative rock acts that signed with major labels (e.g. Sonic Youth
and Soul Asylum
All in all, this is a great album. With a lot of amazing tracks. Maybe especially "Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely" - the album's natural highlight. It's probably the most catchy Hüsker Dü song ever. If not the best Hüsker Dü song ever. Such an amazing track.
But with that being said, no tracks are really skipable.
They're all actually surprisingly good. You know, for a major label act.
Go buy this album, make yourself some hot cocoa, get your girl/boyfriend next to you, dim down the lights, put the record on the gramophone, and enjoy. Just enjoy as Hüsker Dü define alternative rock.