Bob Mould says “Patch the Sky” is the darkest and catchiest album he’s made recently (“Silver Age” and “Beauty & Ruin” are the others in this cycle).

He’s right on both counts.

“The words make you remember, the music makes you forget,” Mould says about the adversity he’s gone through, including “more death, relationships ending, life getting shorter.”

Without sounding forced, the happy/sad contrast between melodies and lyrics puts a roll cage around the listener and makes it possible to survive sentiments like “It’s the end of things, the end of everything” on “The End of Things” and “A complicated grief, I need to find relief” on “Hands Are Tied,” and avoid getting crushed through the record’s 42 minutes.

Joined again by drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy, Mould expertly layers the guitar distortion into a heaviness which would sound convincing even unplugged.

Still, it’s an appreciated respite when Mould eases back on “Losing Sleep,” whose intensity is more Echo & the Bunnymen than Hüsker Dü or Sugar. A couple more like that would have been welcome.

As it is, Mould is a pioneer of self-exploration. “Patch the Sky” is a rewarding listen if you are able to withstand the intensity of the search.

— Pablo Gorondi


Wait, Zayn was in One Direction?

You’ll ask yourself that question after listening to his solo album.

“Mind of Mine” — which comes a year to the day he officially announced he was leaving 1D — is a mostly downbeat R&B-pop adventure that shows Zayn has some true star quality.

It’s a departure from the pop grooves One Direction have become known for, and Zayn’s new songs — in the vein of Chris Brown, Frank Ocean and recent Justin Bieber — are appealing.

There isn’t a bad tune in the batch of 14 tracks.

“It’s You” is a pretty, falsetto-heavy slow groove; “BeFour” is addictive and catchy; “Truth” feels like a neo-soul song of the early 2000s; and on “She” and “Fool for You,” the singer reminds you why he did well on “The X Factor,” where 1D formed in 2010.

Malay, the producer who worked heavily on Ocean’s Grammy-winning “channel ORANGE,” also works his magic on Zayn’s album, as do producers Levi Lennox, xyz, Alan Sampson and MakeYouKnowLove.

It may be a group of names you don’t recognize, but that’s a good thing for Zayn. While his album’s sound isn’t particularly new, it’s unique and tailor-made for Zayn.

He’s heading in the right direction.

— Mesfin Fekadu