Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lou Barlow - Goodnight Unknown - Review

Lou Barlow, Goodnight Unknown, Merge Records, 2009
Much like George W Bush, Lou Barlow is one of America's great
over-achievers. Dude spent the '90s doing little more than fucking around,
the greatest bullshitter in a decade full of great bullshitters, haphazardly
goldmining a lo-fi movement he would later disassociate himself from, and
every once in a while releasing a truly great song like "Soul and Fire"
or "Skull" just to keep everyone at arms length of the joke he was playing
on them. I know he has his fans and benefactors (including the editor of
this publication) but the fact is 99% of what Lou Barlow has done is crap,
and, more than anyone, he is responsible for the punk-ass succubus Stephen Malkmus has become.
That said, I was surprised when Barlow reemerged with the intimate masterpiece Emoh in 2005, and even more surprised by Goodnight Unknown. For the first time in his life the old fart has mustered the courage to release two consistent albums on his own, devoid of filler, inside jokes, or happenstance. As with Emoh, the songs on Goodnight are careful and precise, note for note mature and professional, even while exploring the fuzzed out warblings of Sebadoh on the opener "Sharing" or when flirting with the old lazy lo-fi he popularized ("Praise"). Barlow consistently resists the urge to wander into the maddening madness of slackerish distraction, in which he previously indulged. He ain't punk rock anymore, which is cool. Most of his fans aren't either, and never were, and the massive miscalculations he made with projects like Sentridoh may one day be erased by the apologies inherent in his latest releases. -stacks

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