Since coming to Merge Records, Bob Mould has fully embraced his place as alternative rock icon. 2012's nearly flawless Silver Age marked a return to the Sugar-era sound of Mould. Beauty & Ruin serves as an overall retrospective, as it blends pieces of his entire career and spits them out in his current sonic landscape.
“I Don't Know You Anymore” is an excellent power pop song that could have come out anywhere in the mid-2000's. “Kid With Crooked Face”, “Tomorrow Morning”, and “Hey Mr. Grey are Hüsker Dü-paced blazers with plenty of punch. His most impressive songs of the album may be “The War” and “Fire in the City”, tracks that evoke the very image of tearing down all that was. The past is the past. Celebrate what you loved, hold onto what's sacred, and destroy everything else. That may be the overall point of the record. Mould has ignited something within himself. He's eschewed the extraneous and kept the core tenets of his music. There are no big guitar theatrics or electronic accents, just rock played full steam ahead.
The last two Bob Mould albums may have been trips down memory lane but the fact of the matter is that a quarter century has passed since his first solo record and he is still capable of the astounding. Silver Age and Beauty & Ruin may be the greatest efforts in his solo career. For the comics savvy, think of this as Mould's “Born Again”. Frank Miller wrote a story of the blind superhero Daredevil where everything was taken away from him, his career, his home, and his reputation. It's a classic tale of what makes someone a hero. It's not the costume, it's the man himself. Bob Mould is a bonafide rock 'n' roll superhero. Let him save your day.
Bob Mould will be playing a free show at the Pritzker Pavilion on Mon Jun 23.