While many will tell you that hardcore punk was the purest genre their ever was, it wasn't. There were rules; there were limits; there was a certain style to it all. If you had long hair, if you were openly a drug user, or even if you admitted to liking certain out-of-style bands, you were a "poser" or whatever the hell dumb insult the dumb hardcore listeners could throw at you. While bands like Minor Threat and the Circle Jerks were all excellent bands with great messages and great themes and perfect expressions of raw power, the audience they attracted was often quite stupid. Macho men and skinheads and overall violent idiots who said "*** the system!!!" without knowing what "the system" was; this was a large portion of punk rock fans. But with the coming of bands like the Minutemen and Husker Du, punk fans became more everyday/average-Joe, because of the relatable lyrics of these bands that didn't just inspire people to punch people at shows. Husker Du began their career as "hardcore" as they came, but even in their earliest form, they were different from the average punk band. Their lyrics actually had the band's feelings and emotions, and for many, having emotions was entirely un-punk. However, even the most close-minded of hardcore enthusiasts could get into Husker's debut Everything Falls Apart
, which is about eighteen minutes of pure hardcore bliss. Fans of the lighter side of the band's latter work and fans of bombastic balls-out Minor Threat-esque anger could listen to this alike. And that's what seperates this band and this album from other hardcore bands.
First of all, the band sounds sloppy as hell in true hardcore fashion. The riffs are fast and simple and chugging; the vocals are, for the most part, more brutal and pissed than they ever would be afterwards, and it's hard to believe that just a few years later the same band would release songs like "Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely" and "These Important Years", and while I myself am foremost a fan of the more balls-out punk, the songs here that are more similar to their later work are the best. Songs like the title track and "Blah Blah Blah" are melodic while still filled with that raw hardcore energy that we all love. This seemingly perfect balance between the two styles is what seperated Husker Du from their peers. Without these moments of sensitivity and melody, Husker Du would've been clumped in with your average hardcore bands.
While being able to play your instrument well was often frowned-upon in punk music, the Husker boys just can't ***ing hide it. Bob Mould is a hardcore-Hendrix, being able to play his guitar far better than most punk musicians could play their own, and save maybe Greg Ginn and D. Boon, Mould could possibly be the most skilled punk guitarist of all time. Greg Norton's basslines are subtle but always an important part of the music. Just listen to the groovy vibe in "Wheels". And Grant Hart does his job perfectly as a punk drummer. He isn't too simplistic or ***ty like most punk drummers strived to be, but he isn't too show-offy either.
While it's no secret that the Huskers are great at their instruments and pretty damn good at writing meaningful songs, the overall sound they exude on this album is the sound of what rock n' roll should sound like. Husker Du were just average looking guys (save Greg's moustache). They didn't have mohawks or tattoos. They look like they probably shopped at Old Navy. They didn't have the wildest stage shows in town. They were just a two-thirds gay rock n' roll band that set out to write some good tunes, and good god damn, they succeeded. This album is a perfect example of what punk was about; it is never too heavy, too sloppy, too fast, never too anything. It's good music for skanking or moshing, and then it's also good music for putting a big happy grin on your face.
This is some of the best eighteen minutes of punk out there, and for any of you who like punk, I highly recommend picking this up.