Flying in the face of all the florid American songwriting boogling around at the moment (flounce forward Rufus, Conor et al), the godfather of both emo and lo-fi is somehow at the top of his game. It's funny because Lou Barlow seems to have an air of 'what-could've-been' around him in these latter years, so if one doesn't actually buckle down and listen to the songs, it's easier than ever to overlook him.
There are four gorgeous songs on offer here, Holding Back The Year itself is clean acoustics, a bit of light percussive tapping and a blueprint pathos-drenched melody. A relationship surviving on compromise and acceptance, through a filter of ageing self-reproach. Finger and Territory are pure voice-and-guitar tracks, before the closer Refused fills things out with a live band feel. We're sitting somewhere close to the softer end of classic Sebadoh.
Here it is. Always, Lou Barlow gets to the heart of whatever it is you need to get to the heart of. Those critics still bang on about whether the recording quality is easier on the ear than his early work. For fuck's sake.
8Toby Jarvis's Score