If you go
What: Bob Mould Band
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26
Where: Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood
The title “Sunshine Rock” almost seems like a put-on.
Surely Bob Mould — whose punk fury helped rocket Hüsker Dü through the 1980s, then turned bleak on 1990 solo outing “Black Sheets of Rain” — meant for his first new record of the Trump era to be received with a hint of knowing sarcasm, a dark chuckle.
Think again. “Sunshine Rock,” Mould’s just-released 13th solo album, is thematically something of a cheery left turn, a 12-song collection that continues the hard-rocking return to form of his last few records, but with a noticeably sunnier disposition on display throughout songs like “Camp Sunshine” and “Sunny Love Song.”
Mould, who spoke to The Denver Post last month ahead of tour rehearsals in San Francisco, said that wasn’t the plan. But about six months into writing songs for the record from his new home base in Berlin, the title track — the album’s heart-on-the-sleeve opener that begins with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs-quoting line “They don’t love you like I love you” — simply revealed itself to him.
“I just saw this sort of hope fall out of me,” said Mould, who plays Englewood’s Gothic Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 26. “It was like, ‘Oh, let’s work this. Let’s work in this direction. This will be a much healthier look at things.’ Once that song made itself known, it presented a theme, and I started making adjustments within myself and my daily life.
“It’s actually really simple,” he said. “It’s the awareness that one needs to change, and when you get a sign that you need to change, you try to take advantage of it — which is something I haven’t always heeded.”
Mould has a shorthand for how that emotional course correction played out musically: “It’s not ‘Black Sheets of Rain,’ that’s for sure.”
“Sunshine Rock” is Mould’s fourth album with his eponymous band, following the trilogy of “Silver Age” (2012), “Beauty & Ruin” (2014) and “Patch the Sky” (2016). He’s spent the better part of a decade backed by bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster, having stripped away the electronics he played with in the early 2000s.
The first of those three records found Mould revisiting the muscular rock of “Copper Blue,” his landmark 1992 debut with post-Hüskers trio Sugar. Each of the second two dealt with the loss of one of his parents. That accounts for some of Mould’s more grim headspace in recent years — along with the death in 2017 of Grant Hart, his co-founder and songwriting foil in the legendary Twin Cities hardcore-punk act Hüsker Dü, with whom he had a contentious relationship.
Which is why, despite the presence of more straightforward love songs and so much feel-good imagery, the new record’s not entirely sun and roses. There are a few political barbs in there and, on a song like “The Final Years,” Mould appears to be reflecting on those recent personal losses and perhaps his own aging. “What do we cherish in the final years?” the 58-year-old sings over a driving rock beat and — in a new twist — a soaring string accompaniment.
“We only have what’s in front of us,” Mould said. “Again, it’s just the simplicity thing. I try to make my life as simple as possible. That song is a deeper dive into this idea of being able to run free as children and then both responsibility and gravity change all that, and how it slows us down and how it eventually stops us.
“Time is tight in the second half,” he said, switching to a sports analogy. “All players must get to the goal line.”
As for politics, Mould concedes that, given his own views and roots in the hardcore era, taking on the policies of President Donald Trump in his lyrics would have been the obvious route to take.
“There are a few songs that are political on the record, but not overtly so, I think,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot in my lifetime. This is clearly the worst, but I wrote a lot of protest songs in the ’80s, and I still play those songs, and they still hold true. And I’m cognizant of the power of protest in music. But when it became clear to me that I should write to the light as opposed to the dark … to continue going down that path would not have served me well.”
If Mould seems to be making a concerted effort to look forward through rosier lenses, he is coming off a long stretch of self-reflection, both personally and career-wise. In 2011, he published the confessional autobiography “See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody,” and in recent years he has taken to performing “Copper Blue” — a fan favorite — in its entirety in concert.
And in 2017, he signed off on the Numero Group’s lovingly curated, three-years-in-the-making “Savage Young Dü” box set, a multi-disc collection of cleaned-up early recordings from Hüsker Dü. (Fans can stop holding out for a follow-up: “As far as the top-shelf stuff, everybody’s got it all now,” he said. “That was a conscious effort.”)
As the years tick past and he dabbles in other styles, Mould generally gravitates back to where he began, fronting a loud power trio — from Hüsker Dü to Sugar to the Bob Mould Band — that helps his songs roar in the tightest format possible. The guitar-bass-drums lineup, he said, is what drives “the tornado that is our live show.”
“I think I wear it well,” he said.