Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, California
Some things just happen. Some things just pile on. They build up and then they just splatter all over you, like disaster's standing there, misfiring a piss. The stream hits like a hot, but quickly cooling rope and nothing's ever felt that way before. You're sure that this is the worst that it can get, but in the back of your mind, you know better. It's just hard to handle the reality that there's anything that could top this valley. People mishandle their lives all the time and still, it's the ones that are handled most boringly, that can go down the drain just as dramatically. There's no telling which direction these things are going to go in the great crapshoot.
Sebadoh's Lou Barlow had a marriage that lasted nearly a quarter-century end and it led to the writing and recording of "Defend Yourself," the band's first album in 14 years. One can only assume the pain that comes associated with the dissolution of such a lengthy relationship - one that obviously endured many threats over that many years. There must be anger and feelings of betrayal and a depression that's almost unbearable. It has to feel crippling. It has to feel like a jagged landslide, crashing down and crushing. But, again, these are merely presumptions. The collection of songs on "Defend Yourself" concentrates on the complexities of people and their dealings. They focus on the various seasons of people who have been beaten, the waves that it comes down to them - from a fervor and a tumult, to something that's more like a euthanizing, or the dream of a euthanizing. There's great sadness and then there's the resignation that settles in when all of the energy's been spent.
A song such as "Let It Out" features a calmness about it, which might have come after a bender, after a good yell and some fists against a wall. It shows a man who's been sad and will stay that way for a good time longer. There's nothing that can be done. People are good to each other, under they're horrible to each other. It never gets easy.