Thursday, September 12, 2013

Album Review: Sebadoh -Defend Yourself

Defend Yourself
***and1/2 out of *****

Lou Barlow's always let his freak flag fly when playing with his Sebadoh band mates, now reuniting with Jason Loewenstein and Bob D'Amico for the first time in 14 years it brings out some creative juices once again, this time mostly from pain.

Defend Yourself comes after Barlow's long time marriage has ended and from the title on down the album deals with all the ins and outs of such a trying event. There are no easy answers and Barlow runs through a spectrum of emotions trying to grapple with change by using his art in a cathartic way.   

Early on "Beat" plays as one of the best tunes on the album with a stirring guitar solo, an odd off-kilter/jarring ending and lyrics which sum it up best when it is sung that it is "pointless to explain"; emotions, history, pain and love are all interwoven. The title track has some searing guitars that are layered and produced wonderfully while "Let It Out" goes the other way with delicate texture and acoustic flourishes. 

The quirky country-lite pop rock that Sebadoh play with so well shows up on "Oxygen" and "Inquiries" both lamenting that things could have been different. There is some pain here, but the overall feel is more questions and concerns then anger and bile, age matures even Lou apparently; "Can't Depend" even contains a sweet sounding guitar phrase throughout. 

The only down side (besides Lou's vocals not for everyone) is a lot of this material plays the same way, and at 15 songs things become repetitive. The out of place closer "No Wounds" might seem odd, but the difference in tone is welcome at that point."Separate" also switches up the feeling with its quick punky pulse.

On "State of Mine" Barlow takes some blame but never wallows in self pity. The music sounds vibrant, and while he is hurting he knows life goes on and for Sebadoh there seems to be a second life waiting to take off.
While our Dinosaur Jr. love is well noted, we have never been completely enamored with Lou's side project Sebadoh. Harmacy got a lot of play early in college but we haven't gone back to it in years. This disk is a good listen for mega fans of the group and newcomers alike. Pained throughout and not an uplifting listen, it is none the less a welcome return.

Support the band here, grab the album here, peep a video sample below:
"State Of Mine"

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