Bob Mould embraces old sound with new revelations.
Today I actually was sort of in the moment and not in my history, and I wasnt in my future and anybody who knows me knows that Im always stuck on either side of the present, which is a weird place to live. But today Im here in the present. Bob Mould, from "See a Little Light: A Celebration of the Music and Legacy of Bob Mould" (2013)
PHOTO COURTESY OF MERGE RECORDS
Bob Mould on his latest album, “Beauty
& Ruin” from Merge Records.
At 53, middle age is serving Bob Mould well. Despite the guitar hooks and song structure, happy has never defined the alt. rock icon. Though Mould doesnt necessarily break character with Beauty & Ruin, a newfound sense of peace and clarity permeates the record.
Sonically, Beauty & Ruin blends the lighter part of Husker Du with the heavier parts of Sugar. While that logic is solid considering those were Moulds previous bands, that wasnt necessarily the case with his early releases and his foray into electronica that went well into the aughts. 2008s District Line began the new Bob renaissance of returning to hooky guitar pop continuing straight through 2012s Silver Age. Beauty is different from its predecessors not only of its crystallization in sound, but thematically Bob Mould embraces Bob Mould, instead of hiding behind characters or providing opaque lyrics.
Having bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster as more than capable sideman also helps. The present trio is Moulds consistent band since Husker Du.
This is a Mould solo project but theres room for all to have a moment or two. Theres nothing innovative added to the proceedings but you hear musicians really embracing their craft, which is something you dont hear a lot of today. With Moulds recent acceptance of and adding Sugar and Husker Du songs back into his repertoire, we hear a grab bag of his work throughout the album.
Little Glass Pill sounds like a B-side from Sugars Copper Blue while the albums opener, Low Season, is some of his hardest work yet. Forgiveness and Beauty carry the acoustic airiness of Workbook, as I Dont Know You Anymore recalls Husker Du in their Warehouse and Candy Apple Grey. Tomorrow Morning and the albums best track, The War, show Mould in the here and now with telling lyrics. Had another artist gone back to the well, some may say it was due to lack of inspiration; Mould, finally incorporating everything, is refreshing for someone who is always trying new things.
There is hope for him yet. Now if we can only get him to smile.