The difference between Husker Dus furious live 1981 debut and the seven-song mini-album METAL CIRCUS is considerable. While the trio didn't exactly become mellow, these cuts are much more identifiable as songs. Additionally, some of the elements that would mark their signature recordings are here, particularly Bob Mould's distinctive guitar sound, like that of malevolent bagpipes. Where most of the vocals on the debut recording were by Grant Hart, Mould's bilious bray dominates this one.
At this point, Husker Du's stock in trade was still short blasts of fury, but unlike LAND SPEED RECORD, these songs have discernible verses and choruses, even occasionally comprehensible lyrics. Yet there is no let-up in the joyous anger of the music. Mould's musical vision had begun to take shape, especially on \Real World,\ which features the plangent guitar work that became his signature. Grant Hart's songwriting had also taken a leap forward: \It's Not Funny Anymore\ with its stripped-down, somewhat sing-songy melody foreshadows the more melodic direction that the band would take, and \Diane\--a twisted first-person tale of rape, is a sort of distant cousin to Nirvana's \Polly.\