Review Summary: Its like you never left.
It is said Lou Barlow can be found pacing the rooftops late at night; defibrillator in hand. Always on the lookout for his previous bands he can revive from the dust bin. He must have stumbled across the carcass of Sebadoh recently and with a little help from longtime band mate Jason Loewenstein and newcomer Bob D’amico powered up this Frankenstein for another ride.
Sebadoh of course is the 90s archetype for what lo-fi indie rock should be. It was a group whose members would take turns with lead vocal duties, had no problem trading instruments with each other, and most importantly didn’t live by any genre restrictions. Maybe all this freedom was simply the result of three guys trying to have fun or maybe its a reaction to Lou’s prior band that was rumored to be much more uptight. Whatever the cause these guys have an impressive back catalogue, including the immaculate Bakesale, and the new album fits in quite well.
Can you tell that i’m about to lose control
someone else has found her way into my soul
things have changed, no longer need to be with you
i’m still the same and if it’s leaving i must do, to be true, i will
An intense way to open an album. Try quoting this to your significant other and see what happens. (dinner plate thrown on the ground) If you didn’t know before, the opening lyrics to this record make if very clear Barlow is not shy about discussing his divorce and the subsequent emotional impact it has on all the parties involved. Not every moment is this intense and Lou does have a self deprecating humor that gives some of the songs a lighter edge.
Luckily we have Jason’s musical contributions to give the album nice change of directions. Not to say his songs are sunshine but at least his lyrical topics have a lot more variety to them e.g. Inquiries. His vocals have always had a harder edge to them which can give Sebadoh more of a punk vibe and his guitar is lot dirtier and less melodic than what you hear on Barlow songs.
The thing that holds this album back is the lack of dynamics. I like cool guitar riffs with up tempo drumming as much as the next guy but that is most of the songs on this thing. Go listen to their older records and you’ll see a band that put every style on tape. The lack of hardcore tracks like Elixir is Zog or experimental musings: Smoke a Bowl, is very evident. Sebadoh puts consistently good songs on their latest album but the lack of their trademark randomness hurts the final product.
It was nice to hear from Sebadoh again after 14 years and their live show is still a can’t miss experience. Lets just hope on another dark night when Lou is scouring the rooftops he never runs into the corpse of Folk Implosion. Some bands should stay retired.