Sebadoh, Defend Yourself

Michaelangelo Matos

By Michaelangelo Matos

on 09.17.13 in Reviews
Fourteen years later, the angst is still there

What can it mean when a band whose defining trait was angst comes back after 14 years and sounds exactly the same? That’s Sebadoh’s Defend Yourself, their first full album since 1999′s The Sebadoh, whose ballad-heaviness made it among the lesser-loved items in the band’s catalog. The folks who missed the gnarlier guitars and faster tempos of classics like 1994′s Bakesale have their wish granted here. Defend Yourself is outright sprightly in places, whatever the lyrical temper: “This is how we waste our time,” Lou Barlow croons on the pop-punky “Oxygen.” He also milks his depressive streak for laughs on “State of Mine”: “Failure is a state of mine…It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done/ And I haven’t even done it yet.” He’s helped up from the slough by the riffs — Jason Loewenstein’s guitar parts are springy throughout, even when the words are as wound up as when both men were a lot younger. Yet the album carries its makers’ age gracefully — the craft makes even the crabbier moments sing.