Act Surprised

BY Sophie BrzozowskiPublished May 23, 2019

Sebadoh's musical legacy dates back more than three decades, and frontman Lou Barlow's career extends even further into the musical canon. Members of the band have seen each other through thick and thin: divorce, improbably successful offshoot musical endeavours, and the perpetual — if, at times, tumultuous — ebb and flow of life. Fittingly, Act Surprised is about resilience. The album ruminates on themes of loss and regret, without allowing them to eclipse all the fun life has to offer.
"Medicate, I hate my brain" moans Barlow on "Medicate," the raucous fourth track. He sounds miserable, but the band counter his grief with trebly guitar and upbeat percussion. "Meditate, I'll try to pray," he relents in the end, as though persuaded to give healing a try.
Likewise, "Sunshine" finds Barlow in a state of yearning. "I need sunshine, I need you," he sings. It's a song about learning to let go of things you have no control over — the weather, and other people, to name a few.
True to its name, Sebadoh's latest proves that, even after all these years, the band are still capable of making music that is thoughtful, humble, and, at times, surprising.

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