One Track Mind: Bob Mould, “Hey Mr. Grey” from Beauty and Ruin (2014)

Bob Mould, after decades of concussive punk-pop, could be forgiven for downshifting. And you might have even expected such a thing, with a new song called “Hey Mr. Grey.” To which Mould responds with a hardy gut punch of metallic fury.

As with the best of his work, first with Husker Du (a band that set the template for much of what followed as so-called college-rock bands shifted into the major-label mainstream) and then through an endlessly inventive solo career, there remains a tuneful undertow to “Hey Mr. Grey,” however. Mould displays, all over again, both what makes his music both so visceral, and so damned hummable.

Buried deeper still are these serrated emotions, these frank and brutally honest admonitions — another Mould trademark. “Hey Mr. Grey” is like a thunderstorm, equal parts beauty and danger.

As such, the forthcoming Beauty and Ruin, due on June 9, 2014 via Merge Records, promises not a retreat but a reaffirmation of everything that has made Mould such an intriguing figure since the release of Husker Du’s appropriately named Land Speed Record more than three decades ago. Once again, Mould slashes, blazes, wails and reveals — all around a timeless melody. That’s his gift, here and always.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.