Thursday, 12 June 2014

Bob Mould "Beauty and Ruin" (Merge Records)

"Silver Age" found Bob Mould back at what he does best: playing loud guitars and energetic songs in a power trio. The follow up "Beauty and Ruin" happily continues in that vein, although the opening song "Low Season" is so far down it could fit in well on his dark "Black Sheets of Rain" album. His recent live set included more old Sugar and Husker Du songs than "Silver Age" songs, and both bands' legacies are refected in songs herein. The speedy "Little Glass Pill" could sit happily on "Candy Apple Grey" and would actually improve the album if it replaced one his weaker Husker Du songs. "I Don't Know You Anymore" sounds like a classic Sugar single and lightens the mood despite a thousand pieces of Bob's heart getting scattered on the floor. The enthusiasm of bassist Jason Narducy and Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster are enough to glue it back together so "The Kid With Crooked Face" can rev up some chaos that's vaguely reminiscent of "Real World" from "Metal Circus." "Nemeses Are Laughing" has a tripped out circular motion like "Hoover Dam." Probably the most heartfelt song "The War" is a tribute to Bob's late father, a regretful reflection on mortality. Side two begins with the lightest song "Forgiveness" which could lyrically be the opposite side of "I Apologise" from "New Day Rising," although musically its more like Sugar's "If I Can't Change Your Mind." "Mr Grey" is sixties pop hammered into hardcore shape. "Fire in the City" is the song that sounds most like something from "Silver Age" and the "tumbling down" refrain recalls "Spiraling Down" from "Life and Times" but its theme of destruction, impermanence and change could be a prequel to "The Descent." The last three songs conclude the album more hopefully. "Silver Age" obviously referenced the first Sugar album "Copper Blue" with a more precious metal; "Beauty and Ruin" echoes the second Sugar album "Beaster" in that the title repeats the first three letters. I hope Bob Mould has plenty more FU:EL to burn tomorrow morning and fixes up a gold album sooner than it took to turn copper into silver. 

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