In the four years since his career-redefining, mostly acoustic record Emoh, Lou Barlow has reunited with Dinosaur Jr. and reissued three of Sebadoh’s classic albums. But as the brilliant new Goodnight Unknown illustrates, he’s hardly living in the past. Borrowing the live-band energy of Dinosaur Jr. and the stylistic reach of Sebadoh, Barlow has built on Emoh’s full production and written a set of immediate, melodic pop songs that Lou describes as, “a cross between my later work with Folk Implosion and my earlier work with Sebadoh…to my ears, anyway.”
From the surging opening track “Sharing” to the surprisingly soulful performances on “The Right,” Goodnight Unknown benefits from Barlow’s tunefulness and his decision to record the record relatively quickly, with old friends and new. The Melvins’ Dale Crover adds inspired drum work throughout, and Goodnight Unknown’s urgent sound owes just as much to frequent Barlow collaborator Imaad Wasif (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, alaska!). The record’s considerable power also stems from the new talents on board, including producer Andrew Murdock and Lisa Germano.