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The New Folk Implosion

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Album Review

The "New" in the band's name is to separate this group from the former Folk Implosion LPs that were studio collaborations between Lou Barlow and John Davis. Now that Sebadoh is apparently kaput, Barlow and The Sebadoh drummer Russ Pollard have formed this new trio with guitarist Imaad Wasif (who used to make Alaska! records with Pollard). And it really is different than the Davis records: there are no samples or dance beats, just a pure band, plain and simple, no tricks, and no up-front treats either! The first product of this new union is much more forbidding than the average Sebadoh record. Yes, it's mostly dark and a little joyless, if kind of spellbinding for it. Aside from one lonely nice folk-pop sweetener in "Pearl" and the classically vulnerable closer, "Easy," Barlow's in no laughing mood. The lyrics of these nine lengthy songs are all about modification, moving on, starting over. One important element of Barlow's past is thankfully preserved, and that's the way he can crawl up your spine when he wants to. Whether it's detailing girl troubles or just verbalizing general dissatisfaction, he's always been at his best expressing the angst he carries when something's a little off in his life, or when the things he needs the most are slightly out of reach. The New Folk Implosion is bound to alienate many an old fan, as it gives him or her no help and that's that. The melodies are there, but they sure aren't catchy pop. It's an LP that makes you listen closely or turns you off, the kind where Wasif's punishing, stabbing, frightening guitar leads are what hits hardest, not the songs themselves. Though it will take a number of plays to wipe the grime off Barlow's bitter frown, it's still strangely alluring, like watching friends deal with new life long after a breakup or after losing their job or best friend. Swim at your own risk.


Formed: 1993 in Boston, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Indie rock fans are probably inclined to think of the Folk Implosion as the most prominent of Lou Barlow's many side projects from the influential indie band Sebadoh. But the reason for that prominence — a left-field mainstream pop hit — means that that description doesn't really reflect the general public's perception of the band. With partner John Davis, Barlow — the king of lo-fi basement recording, usually noted for his sensitive introspection — crafted a sexy, sinuous,...
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The New Folk Implosion, Folk Implosion
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