Pitchfork (Website) - "[T]he new EP tackles end-of-the-world angst....As these songs show, Barlow isn't losing a step as a composer -- his craft sounds more effortless as he grows."
Recording information: Sonelab Studios, Easthampton, MA.
A five-song EP that runs through its paces in an efficient 17-and-a-half minutes, Lou Barlow's 2016 effort Apocalypse Fetish finds him returning to his lo-fi D.I.Y. roots. Barlow had a studio and an engineer at his disposal this time around, so the audio on Apocalypse Fetish is far cleaner than on those early Sebadoh recordings. But Barlow handles all the vocals and instruments on these songs, and the stripped-down, primarily acoustic arrangements bear a certain resemblance to his downbeat, self-recorded post-Dinosaur Jr. material. This wasn't recorded in Barlow's bedroom, but in terms of how this plays out, it could have been, and that works in his favor. The rough-hewn simplicity of the production flatters Barlow's melodies, and the sometimes overloaded report of his guitar, ukulele, and voice adds to the emotional intensity of the performances. While the title track deals with the consequences of predicted disasters that don't arrive, most of the tunes on Apocalypse Fetish find Barlow obsessing over his neuroses and his problems with women. Thankfully for him, he seems to have a better handle on such things these days, but his ability to tap into his insecure younger self still makes for good music, and you need look no further than these songs for proof. Though released through an established indie label, Barlow's liner notes cite Apocalypse Fetish as part of his "Loobiecore" series of esoteric self-released items, and it fits that billing. Deliberately modest in scale, this EP is Barlow in obsessive and personal mode, and few veteran indie rock artists can still tap into this side of their muse as effectively as he does. ~ Mark Deming