Defiantly riding the third (or fourth, if you count Sugar) high of his post-Hüskers career, curmudgeonly but ever-lovable ol’ Bob Mould continues the melodic adrenaline rush of 2012’s outstanding Silver Age on the new Beauty & Ruin, his 11th solo album. Once again fronting the powerful but empathetic rhythm section of drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy, the theme for the 53-year-old guitarist and vocalist still is raging against the dying of the light, though he intends a more specific arc of three sections here, portraying his movement from pain to reflection to acceptance following the death of his father, with whom he had a troubled relationship. If it doesn’t quite match the brilliance of his last outing, that’s only because there’s a little more drone and a little less melody (Bob’s roar is always most effective when it’s balanced by those sweet hooks) and, not surprisingly, a little less humor in the lyrics this time around. But standouts like “Hey Mr. Grey” and “I Don’t Know You Anymore” rank with his very best.
Bob Mould, Beauty & Ruin (Merge)
Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.