Lou Barlow "Goodnight Unknown" (Domino, 2009)
The prince of alt-rock steps into the spotlight once more
Taking a quick break from the newly rejuvenated Dinosaur Jr, Lou Barlow finally gets round to his second solo record. While his first, 2005’s ‘Emoh’ was a more acoustic affair, ‘Goodnight Unknown’ seems to draw selectively from all of Barlow’s differing band incarnations from over the years.
The insistent rock pounding of opener ‘Sharing’ sounds like a strong Sebadoh moment, and all the better for it. Similarly, the deceptively simple thud guiding the wonky pop of the title track is another gem. Elsewhere on the scale, the lo-fi acoustic pop of ‘Too Much Freedom’ and ‘The Right’ standout by virtue of some unexpected percussive propulsion and gossamer light vocal melodies, too gentle to be able to interrupt the insistent drive.
Barlow’s soft, Post-Grunge Nick Drake vocals on the gentler acoustic moments such as ‘Faith in Your Heartbeat’ thrill much less when the introspection gets ratcheted up and it begins to feel like Barlow could reel this stuff out in his sleep, lacking as it does the attractive drive of the more exciting, urgent material.
Speaking of which, The Melvins’ Dale Crover provides the hardcore edge on drums throughout the album whilst frequent Barlow contributor Imaad Wasif guests also here. With 14 songs rattled though in a fleeting 37 minutes, Barlow ensures there’s enough to move, charm and beguile without ever testing the patience.
All in all, a really very pleasant interlude before the day jobs beckon again.
Date review added: Friday, October 30, 2009
Reviewer: Ian Fildes
Related web link: lou's online world