Lou Barlow EMOH

It used to be that Lou Barlow only put his own name on leftover material that he couldn’t bother to find a pseudonym for. Just ask any fan who waded through mountains of seven-inch singles by Sentridoh, Sebadoh and the Folk Implosion. But now he’s older, wiser, and has started to make amends with past relationships, so it’s time to take all the reins and put his own name on a proper album. Forget about the jokey title, which is a nod to Barlow’s status both as a home recording guru and a reluctant role model to sensitive (read: self-loathing) indie boys. Emoh is cause to rejoice for any Barlow fan who’s been left in the cold since Folk Implosion’s 1999 album One Part Lullaby — or even since Sebadoh’s 1996 album Harmacy. Of course, "rejoicing” isn’t usually an action in Barlow’s lyrical arsenal. Here, he’s at his melancholy best — but mature, not mopey. He’s even prepared to imagine himself as the secret lover of the "Virgin” Mary and father of the "mystery baby with the supernova spotlight.” These stand as some of his finest songs to date, even if some date back a few years, like the recycled Folk Implosion rarity "Caterpillar Girl.” Gone is the tentative nature of his hiss-ridden earlier work, yet all of the intimacy remains, as well as his sense of humour — here he gives Ratt’s "Round and Round” the lo-fi makeover he bestowed upon Bryan Adams’ "Run to You” a decade ago. Sure, he’s been here for years, but we can call this a comeback. (Merge)