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Bob Mould’s happy medium

Bob Mould doesn’t seem like a compromising guy. The former firebrand for Husker Du was king of the molten guitar lead, finally providing punk rock with a capable ax to grind. When the band broke into shards, the bad blood between Mould and drummer and fellow songwriter Grant Hart didn’t look to be healed anytime soon — and still doesn’t 20 years later.

Since then, Mould has pressed his fair share of hot buttons — often his own, as with intensely confessional singer-songwriter projects like "Workbook" and primal screeds like "Black Sheets of Rain," but also his audience’s, as with the electronica-laced outing, "Modulate," which Mould now likens to provocative career missteps like Lou Reed’s "Metal Machine Music" or Neil Young’s "Re-ac-tor."

There were also the Sugar records. It was easy to imagine Sugar as what would have happened to Husker Du if they’d bickered happily ever after — roiling punk-pop with a sweet solar plexus.

But for his past two discs, Mould achieved what must be described as a happy medium — a worthy compromise with his own legacy. After notoriously retiring from guitar-oriented rock on “The Last Dog and Pony Show,” then backing up the threat by releasing Modulate, he folded all of it in — the guitars and the keyboards and the tape loops and the confessionals and the snarls — and made pretty nifty pop discs with an innovative edge. Here is a succinct video previewing the various tunes on the second of those discs, "District Line" from 2008.

Now Mould is following up those albums with "Life and Times," due to drop April 7, or eight days after tonight’s gig at the Varsity Theater. It is unclear whether the billing for the show — "An Intimate Evening with Bob Mould" — means he’ll be shedding the band with whom he is currently touring, which includes Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster. I hope not. The word on "Life and Times" is that it contains some sexually explicit lyrics — no surprise and no crime, given Mould’s historic lack of caution artistically — and I like my dirty talk with a lot of extra-musical entendre.

Besides, the single from the record, "I’m Sorry Baby, But You Can’t Stand in My Light Anymore," sounds better with a band on Mould’s MySpace page (and check out that new "furry freak brothers" mug of his) than it does in this solo video clip.

Bob Mould at the Varsity Theater. Tonight, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. $20.

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