“It’s a song cycle. A narrative. It’s nobody’s story but my own… I ran so fast from my past that I caught up with myself. This album is acknowledging that and dealing with every year getting a little tougher.”
Bob Mould’s new album Beauty & Ruin may very well be the most epic emotional roller coaster ever pressed into 36 minutes.
Well into his fourth decade as a singer-songwriter, Mould is as relevant, ferocious, and poignant as he has ever been on the compact epic that is Beauty & Ruin. Instead of sitting idle and going quiet, Bob chooses to confront head-on and plow through the psychic turbulence that comes with this stage of life. Much of Beauty & Ruin deals with the passing of Mould’s father in October 2012, Bob’s struggle to come to terms with it, himself, and his own identity and legacy, and repercussions of all of the above on his ongoing relationships in the land of the living. Beauty & Ruin is a twelve-track journey of loss, reflection, conciliation, and coming through the other side. Beauty & Ruin is a challenging work of raw beauty—and may well be Bob Mould’s finest work since his 1989 solo debut, Workbook.
Bob Mould’s journey as singer-songwriter, guitarist, author, DJ, and all-around MVP began in 1979 with the formation of Hüsker Dü. In 1988, Mould began the first part of a solo career producing the aforementioned Workbook and the heavy Black Sheets of Rain. In 1992, Bob gave the world Sugar, a reimagined power trio that toured the globe and produced two albums and an EP: Copper Blue, Beaster, and File Under: Easy Listening. From these releases came a cache of songs—“Helpless,” “Hoover Dam,” “If I Can’t Change Your Mind,” “Your Favorite Thing”— that remain staples of Bob’s live shows to this day.
Throughout the decades, Mould has consistently recorded, toured, and perfected his craft(s). In fall 2012, Bob gave the world Silver Age, his debut album for Merge Records and the first to feature current bandmates Jason Narducy and Jon Wurster. The subsequent touring covered four continents, ending in October 2013 in South America. Beauty & Ruin is in large part the sound of this band, on the road relentlessly, congealing into the tightest unit to surround Bob in his storied career. In other words, a real band. Bob remarks, “The new album plays to our strengths as a three-piece. Jon, Jason, and I have been making music together for six years. During that time, we’ve identified and built upon the band’s strong suits.”
Beauty & Ruin is a product of a survivor who refuses to give up, thrives through his work, and subsequently embraces the many changes around and within himself. Bob smartly declares the album as “yet another bonus round, and I am very grateful.”