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Sebadoh: The Sebadoh



Album: The Sebadoh
Label: Sub Pop/Sire

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Sebadoh's albums have traditionally been battles between the band's winsome, sensitive, earnest side (traditionally represented by frontman Lou Barlow) and a more abrasive, lighthearted, even unlistenable side (most often provided by former drummer Eric Gaffney). Each song has traditionally been feast or famine, depending on which side you prefer, but on such recent albums as Bakesale and Harmacy, Barlow's softer approach has consistently won out. That has plenty to do with the increasingly Barlow-esque songwriting of bassist Jason Loewenstein—not to mention the band's admirable tendency to do whatever it wants—but The Sebadoh feels like a regression into unevenness, without all those unpolished gems. Less a collection of revolving solo acts than a single okay band (Russ Pollard replaces Bob Fay on drums), the new incarnation of Sebadoh has trouble connecting, regardless of its approach. There are a few decent, middling, clamorous rock songs ("Weird," "Break Free," "Tree"), but The Sebadoh is dominated by what feels like filler: The screechy "Flame" ambles on for ages, the thunderous "Cuban" sounds like aimless clatter, and even the prototypical Barlow ballad, "Love Is Stronger," comes off like a narcoleptic retread. Sebadoh's records have always thrived on unpredictability, but the only surprise on this one is how forgettable it is.