Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bob Mould In All His Alternative Glory

Bob Mould has once again succeeded at creating alternative rock gold.  His latest solo album Beauty and Ruin has the same raw intensity seen in his time with Husker Du while maintaining the more alt rock oriented sound of his early solo albums and influential 90’s band Sugar.  The albums 10 tracks combine elements of alternative, punk, grunge, and rock in a way which can best be described as a mash up between the Foo Fighters and Bad Religion if you must draw a comparison.  Lead in track “Low Season” starts with a haunting and mesmerizing guitar riff which navigates slowly through a melancholy drum beat and comes crashing down with the symbols during the chorus setting a dark and mystifying tone which is abandoned on second track “Little Glass Pill” which hits you like a ton of bricks after chilling out to the slow opener.  The tracks fast, punk rock tempo startles you at first but reminds you that this is in fact the ex-guitarist for one of the preeminent 80’s hardcore bands of the Midwest.  “I Don’t Know You Anymore” follows with a more pop rock, radio friendly sound before continuing into “Kid With Crooked Face” which brings us right back to the blistering tempo and punk sound of Glass Pill and ends up sounding the most like Husker Du on the album alongside the later track “Tomorrow Morning”.  “Nemeses are Laughing” comes next and again returns to the radio rock of some of the earlier tracks.  Mould manages to switch back and forth almost seamlessly providing catchy songs for both mainstream rock fans and underground die-hards.  “The War” comes next and is one of the best songs on the album employing a mix of 70’s punk influences and pop rock to craft a sound similar to the Foo’s.  This sound is continued on “Hey Mr. Grey” but not before cooling off, as is the style of the record, with “Forgiveness” a soft rock ballad with no central guitar riff and a xylophone in the background which definitely sounds the most out of place on the record.  The album comes to a close with two songs which again vary greatly in sound while still maintaining a cohesiveness which ties the album together.  “Let the Beauty Be” is an acoustic soft rock gem which calms your pulse before the record finishes with a bang.  Closing track “Fix It” is some incredible alterna-pop and has the best drums out of all 12 songs which is only fitting as any self-respecting rock album should leave your pulse racing at the end.  In the same vein as Ian Mackaye and his band The Evens, Bob Mould has shown that it is not only possible for the early 80’s hardcore sound to evolve and grow over time but that it’s influences can be used to create something totally new which exemplifies the fact that music is too great and varied to restrict yourself to one style.

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