New Day Rising

Hüsker Dü

SST Records, 1985üsker_Dü

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Few groups pale in comparison to Husker Du when it comes to creative bursts. Within a year, the band released two albums. One, a lush, double album dealing with two muses of teenaged boys:video games and suicide. The other album was a shorter, poppier album that re-affirmed what "Alternative Press" labeled the band:the Beach Boys of the alternative world.

The double album was Zen Arcade. And the short, poppy album is, of course, New Day Rising. The trio's energy reached 'critical mass' on the latter album. Guitarist/songwriter Bob Mould and drummer/songwriter Grant Hart feverishly tried to out-do each other in greatness. Mould would go for the abrasive, prickly route with "I apologize" and the lonesome "Celebrated Summer" while Hart delivered some irresistable pop, such as "The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill" and "Books About UFOs".my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Hart turned out to be the romantic of the group. In "Girl", Hart sings, "I'd trade big mountains and rooms full of gold/for just one look at the beauty of this woman's soul". Sometimes, you have to go over the top to get the emotional reaction needed from the audience (see "Titanic"). And Hart was not hesitant to leave his emotions bare.

As impressive as the lyrics are to each song, even the basic New Day Rising, the sonic attack was der furer of the Husker arsenel. Mould's traditional buzzsaw attack made each song buzz like a live wire. Norton's bass gets a workout in "I apologize" and the jarring "59 Times the Pain".

Although Zen Arcade didn't make squat for cash, the band achieved in getting lauded by most critics. Still headlining clubs, not venues, Husker Du was in a more prosperous position when they recorded New Day Rising and it appears that they're enjoying their taste of success. It's a noticably happier album than Zen Arcade, but it's still a rather black canvas that the band works from.

Take "Celebrated Summer", arguably the best Husker Du song written. Starting off as a straightforeward punk song about idleness in the summer, the electricity all of a sudden shuts off an Mould switches to acoustic. "Then the sun disintegrates between a wall of clouds/I summer where I winter at/where no one is allowed there." Then the tune picks up again after that lyric floors you. It was their "Good Vibrations" moment.

Throw in two eclectic pieces, "How to Skin a Cat" and "Plans I Make" and you've got a damn near flawless album. Unfortunately, New Day Rising represented one of the last times that Hart and Mould could iron out their creative differences. In subsequent albums, a lot of times Hart and Mould sounded like they were recording two different albums. Not to say Warehouse: Songs And Stories or Candy Apple Grey were bunk releases, it's just that New Day Rising was so unified. A dirty masterpiece well worth seeking out. If you don't have it, click on the Music Boulevard icon now before Smash Mouth sucks up your $15.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A-


© 1998 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of SST Records, and is used for informational purposes only.