ALBUM REVIEW : Lou Barlow - 'Brace the Wave’
ALBUM REVIEW : Lou Barlow - 'Brace the Wave’

ALBUM REVIEW : Lou Barlow – ‘Brace the Wave’

This ‘Lou Barlow’ article was written by Paula Dunne, a GIGsoup contributor

3.5*Dinosaur Jr’s bassist Lou Barlow releases his new record ‘Brace the Wave’ today on Joyful Noise Recordings. Barlow returned back to Massachusetts after living in L.A for seventeen years and recorded his new album in Sonelab studios in Easthampton. However, the album’s raw, lo-fi music sounds like something that Barlow could have recorded from his own bedroom, which isn’t a surprise considering he recorded the whole of ‘Brace The Wave’ in only six days.

His uncomplicated acoustic sounds make way for his poetically distressed lyrics to be the focal point on the album. The opening track ‘Redeemed’ introduces the record with its first line “the story of my innocence is brief” which is sang over a tuned down ukulele. Barlow’s songs tell a story of a tainted and tortured artist dealing with his anxieties. Alternating each song with his guitar or his ukulele, his music has the scruffy rawness and piercingly troubled lyrics similar to artists like Daniel Johnston, Sparklehorse and Elliot Smith.

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His second song ‘Nerve’ is more upbeat with ragged strumming on his guitar and tasteful singing in the chorus which builds up to a harmonious ending. Barlow returns to his ukulele in the third track ‘Moving’ with bouts of synth throughout the song. His fourth song ‘Pulse’ is slower and unravels his unsettled condition with lyrics like “I’m at war with my body and mind”. While his voice sounds relaxed and indifferent to his lyrics, he tells a story in each song of feeling isolated in his own head. The fifth song ‘Wave’ maintains the demo-like style of the rest of his album but feels more significant with heart-broken lyrics that embody the whole album: “brace the wave”.  His next track ‘Lazy’ has a traditional acoustic folk style accompanied with a powerful voice while Boundaries has a fuzzier vibe to its sound. His eighth song ‘C & E’ returns to his indie folk style with his sensual voice that guides the listener into the final song ‘Repeat’ which has a beautiful melody to end his latest work and makes one reflect on the entire album as something that one would return to again.

After Lou Barlow’s tour with Dinosaur Jr., he will commence his solo tour on September 8th to celebrate his release of ‘Brace The Wave’ and is due to tour in the UK for October.

‘Brace the Wave’ is out now via Domino Recordings