Lou Barlow and Co. celebrate the void
In early press materials for Sebadoh's new record, Act Surprised, which comes out a day after the band's performance at Rumba Cafe on Thursday, May 23, co-songwriter Jason Loewenstein described the band's first album in six years thusly: “Of all the records we have made in our long career, this is definitely the most recent.”
It's a stupidly clever joke. Act Surprised, which follows 2013's Defend Yourself (an album that appeared after a 14-year hiatus), is not the least bit surprising. The band's new full-length sounds exactly like what tends to happen any time this trio — Loewenstein, Lou Barlow and Bob D'Amico — gets together in a room: fuzzy/wiry guitars, blistering bass, primal drums. Nine albums deep, Sebadoh still avoids frills at all costs.
Of these 15 songs recorded in Easthampton, Massachusetts, Barlow wrote seven, Loewenstein wrote seven and D'Amico wrote one, and while Loewenstein's tracks are full of nervous energy, Barlow is more tempered and subdued. On “Celebrate the Void,” he sounds as if he's warmly wrapping both arms around the unknowability of life, making a kind of peace with existential dread. (Safe bet)