Bob Mould

Patch the Sky

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Bob Mould reconnected with his essential primal roar on 2012's Silver Age, embracing the endless possibilities of a power trio thanks to his allegiance with drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy. A rhythm section every bit as powerful as Hüsker Dü and as nimble as Sugar, Wurster and Narducy provided a needed anchor when life started to get heavy, as it did shortly after the release of Silver Age. Mould's father died, an incident that fueled much of Beauty & Ruin and, after that album's release in 2014, his mother died, too. Mourning and loss -- not precisely parental, either -- flows through Patch the Sky, the album that followed Beauty & Ruin in 2016, but the difference between this and its predecessor is how Mould summons strength through the pulsing lifeblood of his music. As songs, the 12 tunes on Patch the Sky often delve into darkness, but it rarely seems as if Mould is succumbing to gloom. He's resisting, railing against the looming black clouds thanks to a considerable assist from his backing band, a rhythm section that allows him to explode and expand at will. Consequently, Patch the Sky winds up feeling bracing, even life-affirming, even though much of it finds Mould staring straight into the abyss, and that's because he finds his sustenance within the act of writing and making music. As the album rolls on, riffs cascade with molten urgency while melodies circle a psychedelic drain, signatures Mould has sported since the heyday of Hüsker Dü, but there's a vitality here due the muscle and flexibility of his band. He's found a trio that executes the blasts of fury and the sullen dirges with equal fire and precision; plus they can be playful, as the unexpected syncopation of "Losing Sleep" proves. All this adds up to another midlife triumph from Mould, a record that harks back to his past while completely occupying the present moment, no matter how uncomfortable or painful that may be.

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