Sebadoh - Bubble and Scrape

Will Metcalfe 26/05/2008

Rating: 3.5/5

This is it, classic unadulterated Sebadoh before they went and got all listenable and shit. Only this isn't it at all, this is an expanded-deluxe edition as it were which, to me at least seems a little strange. Does this go against some kind of indie code of conduct? To be quite honest it probably should but let's just be a little objective a moment-'Bubble & Scrape' has been a hard one to track down for the past five or six years so personally I'm all for a reissue; free shit at a good price yeah?

It's much documented that this record is the last 'real' Sebadoh album with its rough and ready approach and the almost bi-polar opposition in each contributor's material. Barlow is soft and understated, Loewenstein schizophrenic flipping between melody and mania and Gaffney similarly unpredictable. Actually, scratch that trying to evaluate each member just doesn't work for the sweetness of 'Cliché' Barlow offsets this with 'Sacred Attention' instantly dismissing the vulnerable repentance with one fell distortion pedal.It's easy to forget just how erratic Sebadoh were, although 'Bakesale' and 'Harmacy' both offered subtle hints to their past but they were never as raw, never quite as extreme as the first four records.

'Sixteen' could be an archetype for what went on to become the New York anti-folk scene. Simple chords, droned vocals and 'pots n pans' drumming yet the minimalism works wonders, not that Sebadoh have ever done anything else. 'Forced Love' is a confessional with a chorus taken straight out of a playground skipping game 'Pitbull, heartbreaker/forced love dictator/The boy that crippled all her dreams' ok, well maybe not quite a playground game-but the melody is definitely there. Chances are, if you're reading this the reason you're doing so is to see if the re-issue is worth the extra cash-yes and no would be the answer. Domino have thrown in another 13 tracks though around half of these are simply alternative takes and studio oddities (such as the bewildering Parts 1-4); so chances are unless you are a completist you won't have much call for this alongside your old copy of the record. The music itself
stands up as well as it did in 1993 and in some respects the groundwork it laid for the lo-fi aesthetic adds a little more weight to its erratic approach. If you're buying this because, like me you've struggled to find a reasonable priced copy then you won't be disappointed but if you're buying this for the extra material, I'd think again; it's somewhat anticlimactic in that respect. To hell with it, just gimme indie rock!

4/5 for the music
3/5 for the reissue