Defend Yourself - JOYFUL NOISE/DOMINO
FILTER Grade: 84%
By Kurt Orzeck on September 17, 2013
Sebadoh were one of the first ’90s indie-rock bands to break a years-long hiatus, supporting a series of reissues with concerts starting in 2007. (Since then, just about every other one has followed suit…OK, save The Grifters.) They’ve finally put their recording chops back to the test for the first time in 14 years and, like rewatching a re-run of Beavis and Butt-head, it only takes a moment to fall back into the groove. Resuming Sebadoh’s classic but rarely imitated habit of trading off singing duties from song to song, Lou Barlow takes the melodic, introspective route, exorcising the pain he’s accumulated from romantic relationships, while his foil Jason Loewenstein unleashes heavy outbursts and provides much-needed relief. It’s a throwback, but there are some new twists, from the entrancing (“Listen”) to the goofy (“Inquiries”). That a band can successfully experiment after such an extended break is a testament to their self-preservation.