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Bob Mould

Body of Song

Perhaps Bob Mould should have heeded the old cliché, "Never say never" more closely.

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In 1998, Mould's auspiciously titled album The Last Dog and Pony Show supposedly bid farewell to the raging guitar-based punk power and singer/songwriter solo work that defined his career. After 2002's weakly received electronic project, Mould took time off from music to write professional wrestling scripts — no joke.

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Now Mould returns to a band format with Body of Song, featuring tunes that encompass a wide stylistic swath. Touches of electronica are used only as coloring for edgy, melodic post-punk that combines the hooks of Sugar with the fire of Husker Dü and the angst-laden strum of his first solo foray, Workbook.

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Though the variety might imply that he is randomly throwing styles onto the musical wall, the songs are so intensely composed, played and sung that the result is arguably Mould's best and most diverse album.

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Multiple overdubs and propulsive drumming (from Fugazi's Brendan Canty) hammer home Mould's most forthright lyrics yet, many dealing with alienation and loss, themes common to much of his work. With tracks as visceral as the driving "I Am Vision, I Am Sound," the watery ballad "Days of Rain," the husky, Husker-ized "Best Thing," and the Sugar-ed "Missing You," it's encouraging that Bob Mould didn't stick to his guns after all.

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Hal Horowitz

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Bob Mould plays the Variety Playhouse with Magnapop, Fri., Sept. 23, 8:30 p.m. $20. 1099 Euclid Ave. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com