Review Summary: Husker Du in their most relentlessly aggressive form.
Aggression. If there's one thing that just about every punk band has, it is definitely that. Of course, the roots of the music itself was mostly based on a dissatisfaction with society and the state of rock n' roll, so it's not surprising that the feeling would never really leave the music either, since society will always have it's problems. We had The MC5 and The Velvet Underground crafting noise from the start, The Sex Pistols and The Clash yelling about the state of the U.K. in their time, hell even artsy bands like Fugazi and Wire had a sense of aggression in their music. When hardcore came around though, even faster speed became another crucial element to the music. While it's perfectly arguable that speed was a large factor during the emergence of punk, hardcore was the point when the songs went from an ideal one minute and thirty seconds long to only as few as thirty seconds. One of the most legendary bands in this instance of blistering speed was most definitely Husker Du, with Land Speed Record
being the premier source for these intense tempos. But, how good is the music when the goal is simply playing as fast as possible?
According to Bob Mould, early in their career they simply tried to play as fast they possibly could; see the title. While their official debut certainly had tons of fast material on it, they had melody seeping into their explosive sound. Land Speed Record
is just about nothing but full-speed hardcore from start to finish. There are barely any stops between songs, something Husker Du was known to do for their entire career; this album is just pure relentless hardcore that would’ve been crazy to see in person. Unfortunately though, this is where the problems arise. Perhaps the biggest problem lies in poor production, which never really allows the sound to fully punch you in the face. The lo-fi appeal could be argued I guess, since plenty of supposedly classic records have this relentlessness with poor production, but the production ultimately makes every song sound the same. They all have three chords, a tempo above 200 BPM, shouted vocals, and all last for about one or two minutes.
This album is only really for hardcore Husker Du fans, since as a whole nothing here is really too special. Had the production been better, this might’ve been a live classic. They undoubtedly improved their songwriting on their later records, with New Day Rising
being the perfect balance between this noisy hardcore approach and college rock sound. The only song that really stands out is the final one, “Data Control”, which slows down the tempo allowing for some melody and almost psychedelic sounds to come forward. The rest is just straightforward punk rock with little to no stops in between. Check it out if you’re a hardcore Husker Du fan, but everyone else should check out Zen Arcade
or New Day Rising