Lou Barlow -‘Goodnight Unknown.’ (Domino)
It’s been four years since Barlow’s last album, Emoh….well, sort of. In that time, he’s reunited with Dinosaur Jr. to make two fine albums in the form of Beyond and Farm, as well as re-issuing three of Sebadoh’s albums. He’s clearly had fingers in several pies.
So, of his own stuff, what gives? Well, Dinosaur Jr. are back on noisy turf (hooray!) and it seems that this is Barlow’s acoustic side coming through. Not that he hasn’t experimented with acoustic-sounding stuff before. It’s a grower of an album – my initial reaction was well, this is nice but nothing more. The free track made available for promotional purposes ‘Gravitate’ is good, but not the strongest track on the album, by a long shot.
But on listening to this album again, whilst it isn’t up there with Bakesale or the like, this is a really nice collection of songs. I have found myself warming up to it, the way that after the fifth play the harmonium on ‘Gravitate’ starts to prove itself beautiful. It showcases that Barlow is a very good singer-songwriter and also shows just how well his voice has matured. Closer ‘One Note Tone’ sums up the album well; a melodic, acoustic pop song that nonetheless has a great deal of the energy of prime Dinosaur Jr. because of his asscoiations with leftfield indie-rock it’s sometimes been easy to forget that Barlow can write honest, heartfelt pop songs (see also ‘Forever Instant’ recorded with the Sentridoh).
So…give this several listens. It may not win barlow many new fans, but it should be heard, and given the chance that it deserves.