Just when it looked as if 2013’s Defend Yourself would be a one-off comeback, Lou Barlow’s move back to Massachusetts has given the lo-fi pioneers a way to make another new album to mark their 30th anniversary.
Returning to Northampton, MA, where they first recorded, lets Barlow and guitarist Jason Loewenstein goof around with the energy of teenagers on the zippy Stunned and Raging River. But they try too hard to act like it’s 1991 at times and, at 15 songs, the forgettable moments too often get in the way of the best tunes.
Excise a third of what’s here and there’s a fine, cohesive record, with the infectious Belief worthy of classics such as Flame. That it ends on ho-hum jam Reykjavik sums up the album.
Barlow and Loewenstein are only fitfully firing after two albums in 20 years? Yes, act surprised.