Apparently born of a couple of impromptu on-stage reunions in 2011, the Scud Mountain Boys have returned with their first album since 1996’s fantastic “Massachusetts.” So what has changed in the intervening 17 years? Not much; other than an occasional, slight thickening in Joe Pernice’s singing voice, the Scuds still sound as they ever did, making understatement the watchword for everything they do, and mining an idiosyncratic vein that issues in several varieties of the slow, forlorn side of country — as in the beautiful lope-and-mope of “The Mendicant” and the acoustic guitar-strum and highline-steel combination of “Double Bed.” The songs are as devotedly bleak as ever, too, even while, typically, remaining as opaque (is the premise of the stream-of-consciousness “Double Bed” a relationship that ended in breakup? In murder? Is “The Mendicant” sketching the self-loathing of a stay-at-home male?). The Boys still sound like nobody but themselves, and to hear them making music again is an unexpected delight. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “The Mendicant”Stuart Munro can be reached at email@example.com.