Lou Barlow, "Goodnight Unknown"

79 Billboard Rating

Lou Barlow's latest release, "Goodnight Unknown," incorporates the aggressive guitar, angst-ridden lyrics and low-fi sensibilities of his other bands ( Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh), while maintaining the sweet sophistication of his 2005 solo release, "Emoh." Recorded last year between tours with the two aforementioned acts, "Goodnight Unknown" is layered with subtle distortion and commanding percussion, combined with Barlow's confident, sometimes contemplative vocals. The set opens with the gritty "Sharing," then later takes a lighter turn with the playful acoustic cut "Take Advantage," on which Barlow charmingly sings, "Love me like a pancake." But the album is strongest when he combines elements of folk and noise-rock, as on the title track and the stomping "One Machine, One Long Fight," where heavy percussion builds energy behind his determined vocals.-Kelly Staskel