Sebadoh: act surprised (Dangerbird) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, December 8th, 2022  


act surprised


Jun 17, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Six years after Defend Yourself and their recommencement as a recording unit, Sebadoh bring us 15 new songs in the shape of act surprised. The contrast between twin songwriters Lou Barlow and Jason Lowenstein is as stark and compelling as ever here, and the quality of the songswhile never really echoing the spectral glory of their 1993 masterpiece Bubble & Scrapeis worthy of remark for a band that have been together on and off for 30+ years.

While lead single “celebrate the void” (all but one of its song titles is stylized to be lowercase) gives the impression of a sad, tender record there is much to counter that herein particular the shockingly anthemic “medicate” and the tough, jagged “vacation” which hints at metal in its jarring chorus.

They still sound pretty angryat themselves; at the world around them. “Stunned,” while sounding strangely similar to Foo Fighters, also drips with venom and frustration. “Raging river” cops a country riff and twists it into a cascading waterfall of angst and angled guitar.

“Fool” draws out a child-like melody into a ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll number, declaring “I won’t be a fool in your eyes,” while the title track is a dissonant indie rocker full of accusatory declarations“You never even try to be on time/Apologizing would never cross your mind.”

Lowenstein’s stand-out moment here is the frantic “leap year” with its baroque punk hook and unpredictable changes; Barlow’s, then, must be closer “Rekjavik,” a hymn to independence and innocence that finds the band at their most politicized“Live the way you want to” whispers Barlow, preceding an epic chant of empowerment and disenfranchisement.

This is a good record; a good Sebadoh recordand while it may not serve as the ideal access point for new fans, there’s certainly something to be said for a band that is still able to create something interesting and worthwhile after both such a lengthy career and such a long time away from the recording studio. (

Author rating: 7/10

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