Photo by Blake Little Photography

Bob Mould is roaring back into action with an album of protest songs called Blue Hearts that’s due out later this year, but fans got the first blast of it this week in the form of “American Crisis,” a roaring single that draws parallels between the AIDS crisis in the ’80s and what’s going on now.

The 14-song album, Mould’s 14th and the follow-up to 2019’s Sunshine Rock, is due out Sept. 25 on Merge Records on LP, CD, something called “tri-color Peak Vinyl” and digital formats.

Through June 7, proceeds from the single “American Crisis,” which debuted Wednesday and which you can stream below, will benefit OutFront Minnesota and Black Visions Collective.

Of the song, Mould writes: “‘American Crisis’ is a tale of two times. Past Time and Present Time. The parallels between 1984 and 2020 are a bit scary for me: telegenic, charismatic leaders, praised and propped up by extreme Evangelicals, either ignoring an epidemic (HIV/AIDS) or being outright deceitful about a pandemic (COVID-19).”

In press materials announcing the record, Mould calls Blue Hearts “the catchiest batch of protest songs I’ve ever written in one sitting.” The material is in stark contrast to Sunshine Rock, on which Mould intentionally eschewed the more angry and directly political side of his songwriting.

“American Crisis,” in fact, was written for that album, but left off.

“I’ve seen a lot in my lifetime,” Mould told The Denver Post last year. “This is clearly the worst, but I wrote a lot of protest songs in the ’80s, and I still play those songs, and they still hold true. And I’m cognizant of the power of protest in music. But when it became clear to me that I should write to the light as opposed to the dark … to continue going down that path would not have served me well.”

The former Hüsker Dü frontman changed his tune in the year-and-a-half since that interview, most directly, it would seem, over President Donald Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a charismatic, telegenic, say-anything leader being propped up by evangelicals,” he says in Merge Records’ announcement of the new album. “These fuckers tried to kill me once. They didn’t do it. They scared me. I didn’t do enough. Guess what? I’m back, and we’re back here again. And I’m not going to sit quietly this time and worry about alienating anyone.”

Stream “American Crisis” below, and see the full tracklist for Blue Hearts.

 

 

Bob Mould, Blue Hearts

1. “Heart on My Sleeve”
2. “Next Generation”
3. “American Crisis”
4. “Fireball”
5. “Forecast of Rain”
6. “When You Left”
7. “Siberian Butterfly”
8. “Everyth!ng to You”
9. “Racing to the End”
10. “Baby Needs a Cookie”
11. “Little Pieces”
12. “Leather Dreams”
13. “Password to My Soul”
14. “The Ocean”

 

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