US - Massachusetts - Full Moon 249 - 12/14/16
Joyful Noise Recordings
Lou Barlow follows the path from his 2015 album, Brace The Wave when launching this new five track EP at the ebb of 2016. During the last couple of years
he has been touring, both with his Sebadoh and with Dinosaur Jr. who brought us another fresh album earlier this year. Apocalypse Fetish
holds more of Barlow's introvert apopcalypse ballads.
With Apocalypse Fetish Barlow presents more of his rather different, untraditional singer-songwriter stuff. He is not a regular, traditional songwriter performer, as his little songs
sounds more like a little living room (formerly bedroom) one-man band. Barlow's songs are rather untraditional songs from the lo-fi folk-ballad back-alley. That said, his songs do sound more
produced and arranged than the Barlow songbook from earlier years (as Sentridoh, or Louis Barlow Acoustic Sentridoh, or Lou B's Acoustic Sentridoh...). Does this 'apocalyptic' collection mean
that there could be some apocalypse around the corner? Like Barlow presents his newest EP as being a:
'...5 song extended play release from, me, Lou Barlow. The cover features a newborn child peering warily over the edge of her mother's sling into 2016,
the year that conspiracy theorists became experts and anger went [even more] mainstream. The song "Apocalypse Fetish" proposes that, perhaps, many of us have been disappointed that the end
of the world has taken too long to come after we've spent most of our lives predicting it. And, perhaps, we've decided to take matters in our own hands and "bring it on" because, if it doesn't
come soon, then didn't we all seem foolish talking about it all. The. Time.'
Like Barlow states, this is a follow up to Brace The Wave, but this time '...every song is played on ukulele (strung with heavy strings
and tuned much lower than a standard uke). Actually, it sounds nothing like a ukulele. For all intents and purposes it is a 4-string acoustic guitar utilizing the strumming styles and lower
toned soundscapes I've been pursuing since my first released ukulele recording: "Poledo" (on Dinosaur Jr's 2nd LP, You're Living All Over Me).' Right, this is Barlow in Ukulele
modus, caught in an apocalyptic mood. The title track has got a galloping rhythm, but it's not like you'll sense the four horsemen of the Apocalypse coming at you (with Death, Famine, War and
Conquest). I'm not sure if this was prophecy of Barlow foreseeing the rise and the curse of Trump (and Pence!) as the songs were recorded in May and the EP was released in late October, a week
or so before the election. However, the lyrics go:
'Don't trust anyone, when it's us who can't be trusted, more perverse
The safer we are, the more unsafe we feel, that's the curse
That's the curse, that's the curse....
Like he says, none of the other songs 'political in nature but (are) similarly fired up'. The opening "The Breeze" is a nice, calm
folk song ballad with a certain edge. The keyboards (?) and the melodic bass puts a calming, sheltering layer, a melodic cupola over the song. "Anniversary Song" is a bit tenser, almost
holding an 'angry' drive, adding just the right intensity to the song. The fine "Pour Reward" is the calmest, most laidback track, while the closing "Try 2 B" is the closest you can get to
a poppy rock song this time around. A lo-fi pop rock song with a slight country twist, that is. Barlow's new EP is a nice treat, and a smart step further from his last album. I wonder what
comes next. Because the end is nowhere near.
Copyright © 2016 Håvard Oppøyen