I love getting the crew back together. Seriously, reunification scenes are some of my favorite parts of movies and TV. You know the ones–there’s music, a montage, and the one guy who’s “too old for this shit.” Whether it’s the crew from Ocean’s Eleven or the most recent Muppets movie, I can’t resist a good “getting the band back together” moment.
And 2013 has been an intriguing year for real life reformations. My Bloody Valentine came back from a 22-year break with their third album m b v and The Replacements made a quorum for a tour and covers EP. Add now to that list Sebadoh, the indie rock legends who have ended their 14-year album hiatus with Defend Yourself.
While band reunions often cause much excitement, it seems like the act of getting back together outweighs the byproduct in this case. Defend Yourself sounds evidently like the makings of two creators who have been away from each other for a time. It bounces back and forth between two disparate feels, one being the softer side of punk rock that sounds like what could have passed for early Jimmy Eat World and the other a more plodding grunge sound.
The album is best when it takes the more gentle approach. “I Will” and “Let It Out” have a delicate feel that usually comes when musicians have time to reflect on their pasts. They are thoughtful if unspectacular. The grungier tracks do not play as well. To their credit, they aren’t completely weighed down in their own sound like some songs from that genre, but it still isn’t a sound that I feel has aged particularly well. Where the record runs into serious problems is with songs like “Can’t Depend” that are mundane musically but possibly outdone in inanity by their lyrics. “I can’t depend on you/you never do the thing that you say you’re going to/you said that when it comes to me/you don’t know what to believe,” is so tedious I almost fell asleep transcribing it.
Defend Yourself sounds like a fine album from the late 90s or early 2000s. Unfortunately it was released in 2013. While an average album in the early 2000s doesn’t necessarily become bad because it came out too late, it does become less intriguing. Fans of Sebadoh may be delighted in more content from Lou Barlow and Jason Loewenstein, but the rest of us have moved on and I don’t know if we have time to look back.