Beauty & Ruin - MERGE
FILTER Grade: 84%
By Adam Pollock on June 12, 2014
Pre-dating Kurt Cobain, Frank Black and all the others, alternative-rock elder statesman Bob Mould was, in the mid ’80s, at the forefront of that musical genre’s evolution. With Hüsker Dü, and then Sugar, he helped forge a path for the loud, stripped-down, guitar-based anthems that would propagate the media and (sometimes) the airwaves for over a decade. While Cobain exited tragically, and the media turned its back to more mainstream, “Nickelback’s best mid-tempo rockers!” fare, Mould continued to make ass-kicking post-punk. Certainly, as he matured, there have been the mellower moments, even an acoustic guitar or two, but for the most part Mould has stayed with what works best—loud and direct. Beauty & Ruin might be the most realized example of the Mouldian aesthetic, and combined with the heartfelt poignancy of the subject matter—the aging rocker acknowledging his years earned and the years left at the wheel—it soars to contention with the rest of Mould’s formidable oeuvre. Guitars and muscular tempos set the tone and lay the bed for Mould’s expository laments on age, a relationship and, as the track “War” embodies, his struggles with life and death. We will all eventually lose that battle; Bob Mould, guitar in hand, will invariably go out fighting.