Lou Barlow always worried me. He and legendary ’90s indie rockers Sebadoh put out an amazing, weird record nearly every year between 1989’s “The Freed Man” and 1996’s “Harmacy.” I came for the hardcore-esque psycho-screamo, but stayed for frontman Barlow’s bare, jarring lyrics about the dread of loss (“I’d live in fear of losing you/Or holding on and trapping you inside,” from 1993’s “Two Years Two Days”) or driving love away (“Vampire, draining her desire/Vampire, smother her with love,” from 1992’s “Vampire”). Here was a guy somehow sadder than Elliott Smith.
Now, (most of) Sebadoh have reunited and self-released an EP, “Secret,” with an album, “Defend Yourself,” to follow. Barlow, center, recently split with his wife of 25 years, and has said this material was recorded in a similar spirit of transition as their early work.
At a certain point, I wanted poor Lou to be freed from himself. Find a nice girl, get a therapist. Maybe those things happened, but life can still come undone whenever it feels like it.
Streams are up now, but I’m honestly afraid to listen to them. Some bands are a soundtrack to feelings you don’t want to return to.