“Bubble & Scrape”
* * * 1/2
Sebadoh is your quintessential suburban slacker band. The Boston trio, which was started by former Dinosaur Jr. bassist Lou Barlow in 1989, bangs out discordant flails of pop as casually as if they were still jamming in their parents’ garage.
“Bubble & Scrape” is organized and clean in Sebadoh terms. The band’s previous four albums, even last year’s highly acclaimed “Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock,” were so rough you could almost hear Slurpee sucking and Dorito crunching in the mix. Now, a less muddled production allows Sebadoh’s sensitivity to come through. Standard ‘70s schlock-rock chords suddenly become incredibly touching, even when mounds of distortion come piling in. But the explosions of feedback and anti-melody are too mild-mannered to prove abrasive.
All three members are represented by songs, but Barlow’s are the most memorable. Even underneath layers of fuzzy guitar and amid skewed musical timing, he reveals his secret longing for a time when goofy love songs were cool. The irony of it all is that Sebadoh’s nice-guy noise proves more infectious than most stuff groomed for Top 40 success.