Review Summary: Husker Du exit the main stage with a bang and a whimper
Husker Du's last album is over an hour of punk, or rather, twenty tracks of it.
In many ways the album is it's own worst enemy, as well as the band's heroic parting shot. It provides an optimistic and fitting end to an influential and likable band, yet also leaves many questions unanswered as to where the band would have went next. It goes without saying even that an immediate flaw of the album is it's bulk; it's absolutely huge, and though it may not seem it at first glance, it is, as mentioned, incredibly difficult to listen to all the way through. In fact, at least ten tracks could be scrapped for a charming 'Warehouse: Rarities' set, without too much fuss.
Opener These Important Years is an absolutely great track, and one that immediately immerses the listener into the Husker Du sound, with Charity, Chastity, Prudence and Hope following too. A track with a simple enough pretense; that of four girls, all of whom are named after four good old fashioned American values. As with everything with Husker Du, the song's puns and wordplay nearly outstays it's welcome, yet manages to stay just within the border of taste and decency. Ice Cold Ice and You're a Soldier are two of the other obvious highlights, and indeed, as absolutely over the top as it sounds, they are two of the best tracks the band ever recorded. The former is a scathing, sub zero attack on some poor soul, with ferocious guitars that grind away at pattering drums, whereas the latter is an even more scathing attack at the military obsessed United States of America. 'How many kids did you kill today"', screams Grant Hart. He doesn't particularly want to know the answer, and to be honest, neither do I.
There is a lot of filler on here though, the kind of predictable standard fare the band has done before, but turned on it's head for an oddly experimental track, She Floated Away is a good example of this; a decent, but less than memorable number that seems to float in and out of the album's strong track listing. This is the problem with the album, and actually, a problem that's symptomatic of double albums as a whole. The great songs are some of the best Husker Du has ever released, physically strong, emotional and extremely powerful, yet the lesser tracks fall by the wayside, they are so forgettable, pointless and largely poorer in quality, that they drag the album down into the mire of mediocrity.
The even more annoying thing is, as mentioned, the album is over an hour long. This is so unnecessary, but more than that, it actually feels selfish on behalf of the better tracks. I have no doubt this album would improve drastically if it were cut in half and contained only the standout tracks - as controversial as it may seem even, it could even boast being the greatest ever Husker Du release.
Husker Do went out with a bang AND a whimper so it seems. An odd juxtaposition, but nonetheless so. Warehouse: Songs & Stories only adds to the band's already expansive and superb canon of power pop, hardcore punk, and angst rock. The great tracks are some of the best the band have ever written, whereas the filler is just that; airy, light and largely transparent pop-punk; lazily written and shadily placed between the truly exceptional tracks to make it seem less conspicuous. Whichever way you look at it, this may detract or add from Husker Du's discography, but really, on face value, Warehouse: Songs & Stories is a great album with some truly outstanding tracks.