Sebadoh – ‘Defend Yourself’

A collision of fuzz-folk and grunge that doesn't quite work

The first Sebadoh record in 14 years slips out with little fanfare – surprising, since they bowed out on a creative peak with 1999’s incendiary single ‘Flame’. This 10th album lacks such bite. Sebadoh were always two different bands elbowing for the same space, and the clash between Lou Barlow’s melodic fuzz-folk and Jason Loewenstein’s free-form grunge has endured – the prehistoric Hüsker Dü of ‘Defend Yr Self’ gives way to the breezy ‘Oxygen’ like two incompatible mindsets colliding. But with no grunge revival taking off and despite Barlow’s noble attempts to age gracefully on ‘I Will’, ‘Defend Yourself’ is the answer to a question nobody was asking.

Mark Beaumont