No cellos, no club music electrobeats, no acoustic guitar breathers, and no light at the end of the tunnel – precious little, anyhow. Just a classic power trio lineup in the spirit of Midwest post-punk juggernaut Husker Du and its barely-sweetened descendant Sugar, with Bob Mould conjuring the ecstatic rage of his earlier bands for a grim new era, apparently still convinced that the best way to meet crushing hopelessness is by barreling head first through it with a throat-shredding howl and all amps cranked.
If you're in a rush – say the drug store is closing and you need to re-up your Lexapro – check "Hands Are Tied," 1:46 of brutally-slashed guitar chords careening downhill, bassist Jason Narducy and light-handed drum pugilist Jon Wurster driving whiplash changes while Mould asks "Can I disappear?" like the white light/white heat is fully upon him. It's not all breathless. "Black Confetti" is a chiming drone-metal march. "Daddy's Favorite," a take-down of a "tainted apple not far from the tree" (Drumpf, anyone?), has an amusing touch of hair-band swagger. With touches of psychedelia and hoarsely whispered verses, "Losing Sleep" is almost a ballad, albeit one about nightmares so intense the singer is about to pluck his eyes out. Timely? Afraid so. But there's comfort in knowing we're not alone.