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New music: Bob Mould and The Spyrals among top picks

Even before the pandemic forced Mould to cut short touring behind his 2019 album, “Sunshine Rock,” he had begun writing new songs. And with America falling deeper into crisis, the alt-rock icon kept writing and now we have “Blue Hearts,” a bracing effort that’s as dark as “Sunshine Rock” was, by Mould’s standards, sunny. Mould was clearly tuned into the turmoil and uncertainty around him, and he shows both rage and compassion throughout “Blue Hearts.” In “America In Crisis,” Mould, who is gay, compares the early 1980s when the federal government did little to fight AIDS to the Trump administration’s inaction on COVID-19. On “Heart on My Sleeve,” Mould blasts climate change deniers, noting that the west is on fire and the Southeast is sinking into the sea. He calls out the hypocrisy he sees in evangelicals and the far right in “Forecast of Rain,” asking “This love thy neighbor thing, does it apply to all mankind?/Or only those who fit neatly inside Your narrow lines?” Mould’s blunt lyrics are matched by a furious musical assault. But as hard as this thoughtful album rocks, Mould’s melodic sensibilities still shine through on virtually every song, with “When You Left,” “Forecast of Rain,” “Password To My Soul” and “Baby Needs a Cookie” among the musical standouts on this consistently strong album. Long may you rage on, Mr. Mould.

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