Scala // 16th October 2013
Last month Sebadoh’s new album ‘Defend Yourself’ beat off all kinds of tough competition to enter the US album charts at #104. Nothing spectacular you might think, but it happens to be the highest chart position Lou Barlow’s band of lo-fi torchbearers have achieved to date and a sign that 14 years on from their last studio album they may be finally getting some deserved recognition.
Self-styled as a more personal and insular prospect than Barlow’s former (now reformed) concern Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh may not have been built to be the commercial successors to Nirvana’s stadium-selling empire, but tonight’s enthusiastic welcome shows they really could be their spiritual descendants. If nothing else their grasp of ghostly intimacy on quieter moments like ‘Skull’ and their cacophonous counterparts like co-frontman Jason Loewenstein’s drilling ‘Mind Reader’ sets them as equal masters of shifting dynamics.
There’s a tonne of false starts, an half-dozen botched solos and that trademark looseness within their playing that all come together to capture the essence of what it is that makes this band so important to the few people that have followed them this far. And those songs: one great folly after another, hurtling maniacally and out of control, threatening disintegration at every turn.
For those after a dark night of soul, preferring the introspective side of Sebadoh, everything’s a little thunder and blitzkreig here. Anyone else happy to see a genuinely deserving band making a welcome and wholehearted return need look not a glance further.