Bob Mould returns to 9:30 Club with new album ‘Beauty & Ruin’

Bob Mould dug deep for his new album “Beauty & Ruin,” which he divided into four acts that express loss, reflection, acceptance and optimism. (Jay Blakesberg)
Bob Mould dug deep for his new album “Beauty & Ruin,” which he divided into four acts that express loss, reflection, acceptance and optimism. (Jay Blakesberg)

At age 53, punk rock legend Bob Mould is making his most honest art yet.

Since 2011, he’s released a memoir, recorded with Foo Fighters and put out two solo albums. The second one, “Beauty & Ruin,” bridges the gap between Mould’s louder, wilder early days with the more gentle, reflective person he’s become.

“2011 was a pretty great year for remembering who I am,” Mould says. “[Then] in October of 2012 my dad passed away, and I used that as the anchor for the 12 months of writing ‘Beauty & Ruin.’ These songs are my vehicle, and I’m just following the path of most enjoyment.”

To capture such an emotional time in his life, Mould divided up “Beauty & Ruin” into four acts, each of which functions as a different mental snapshot.

“[The record] starts out very cold and gray,” Mould says. “There are three songs about loss and three songs about reflection. Then we flip the vinyl over and that’s the beginning of the three songs about acceptance. Then we get to the last three songs and I’m looking ahead to the future.”

Mould enlisted Superchunk’s Jon Wurster for drums and frequent collaborator Jason Narducy for bass as they searched for the right music to pair with his introspective lyrics. The three of them, who make up Mould’s current touring band, came away with a hard-nosed punk sound that also managed to be mature and refined.

“We’ve been playing together for many years now and we’re really locked in as a band,” Mould says. “ ‘Beauty & Ruin’ is an extension of playing with Jon and Jason on the road. It’s loud and aggressive. Those guys had a lot more of an influence on the musical sound of the record than any record I’ve made in ages.”

A show Saturday at 9:30 Club will be a return to a second home of sorts for Mould, whose Blowoff dance parties — often hosted at the club — have been a city staple for 11 years. (Mould even lived on U Street from 2002 to 2009.)

Despite his varied pursuits, Mould hasn’t forgotten his most iconic musical era of all: his time with Husker Du. “Zen Arcade” cuts are always part of his live act, and it’s thrilling to him that younger fans can connect with music nearly three decades old.

“When I was in Husker Du making [‘Zen Arcade’], from 12 a.m. to noon at a studio in Redondo Beach [Calif.,] for $20 an hour, I never sat there going, ‘Wow, I hope these words hold up in 20 years,’ ” Mould says. “But I think it’s great that people still talk about it.”

9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW; Sat., 6 p.m. $25.

More music coverage:

The Rosebuds write a new chapter with ‘Sand + Silence’ (and help from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon)

Bleachers at 9:30 Club: Fun.’s Jack Antonoff on his new band, Lena Dunham, New Jersey and his dog Lamby

Robyn and Royksopp at Wolf Trap: The Swedish dance-pop ruler and her Norwegian chums on ‘Do It Again’

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Kristen Page-Kirby · September 4, 2014