Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Sep 16, 2013
    60
    While there's nothing wrong with the piecemeal construction of the record, 14 years is a long time to wait for an album that sets blandness and brilliance beside each other in an almost equal ratio. When Defend Yourself hits its stride, however, it's amazing how timeless and unique the classic Sebadoh sound really is.
  2. Sep 18, 2013
    80
    Perhaps that’s the promise of a new familiar way that Sebadoh makes good on with Defend Yourself both thematically and musically, finding something to build on at last, after all the years.
  3. Sep 20, 2013
    60
    The best that can be said of Defend Yourself is that it isn't embarrassing; they didn't lose the plot like the Pixies, and it's better than The Sebadoh simply because they got out of that L.A. studio and back to their roots. But it also doesn't add anything to the story or feel like it needs to exist.
  4. Jan 27, 2014
    80
    A return with soul and fire. [Oct 2013, p.110]
  5. Sep 17, 2013
    60
    The band's amiable punk-folk chunter lacks a little of its usual charm. [Oct 2013, p.74]
  6. Sep 19, 2013
    80
    It eschews the compartmentalised, glossy, compressed production sound du jour for a red-blooded, powerful live feel full of adrenalin and excitement. [Oct 2013, p.90]
  7. Sep 23, 2013
    70
    When Defend Yourself starts attacking, it's as if Clinton never left the White House.
  8. 60
    This 10th album lacks such bite [as 1999’s single Flame].
  9. Sep 17, 2013
    50
    The sound remains the same, but the songs aren’t always there.
  10. Sep 17, 2013
    70
    The new album comes a little short on those loud, grimier moments of release. [Aug-Sep 2013, p.94]
  11. Sep 16, 2013
    70
    It’s well crafted and well paced, and features more than enough discordantly catchy riffs (at least two corkers in Beat alone) to sustain the listener’s interest. But for all that, it’s an album dusted only lightly with genuine greatness.
  12. Sep 16, 2013
    60
    Musical achievements that once came easily (if not accidentally) to Sebadoh must now be persistently willed; processes that once pointed toward self-discovery now only offer a familiar balm.
  13. Sep 17, 2013
    60
    This is hardly revelatory stuff--the days of Sebadoh blowing minds and claiming hearts are now far behind them, but then maybe they don’t have to do that anymore.
  14. 83
    The quintessential indie-rock band's tried-and-true sound remains remarkably, stubbornly intact on their first album in 14 years. [20/27 Sep 2013, p.152]
  15. Sep 23, 2013
    70
    Embraced by the masses or resigned to cult status, Sebadoh's reunion is a welcome one, and this strong album is a fine return to peak period form.
  16. 60
    When it falls, it’s awkward, but when it gets there, it gets there. The blunders are all Sebadoh, but so are the gems.
  17. Sep 17, 2013
    80
    Paired with familiar sounds and a reliable DIY aesthetic, Sebadoh manages to focus the emotion, which leaves Defend Yourself feeling like a reenergized, natural evolution for the band.
  18. Sep 16, 2013
    60
    Defend Yourself still suggests a creator with an obsessively huge record collection, only the heady variation of explored genres seems more boilerplate, a sense of variety for variety's sake rather than a desire to put a unique stamp on old musical tropes.
  19. Sep 17, 2013
    78
    It’s a throwback, but there are some new twists, from the entrancing (“Listen”) to the goofy (“Inquiries”).
  20. Nov 21, 2013
    40
    Grounded in the fertile terrain of terminal relationships, the warm, unadorned album comes undone by undercooked songwriting.
  21. Sep 19, 2013
    90
    Defend Yourself is virtually filler-less. [No. 102, p.52]
  22. Sep 23, 2013
    80
    Insecurity, guilt, confusion and doggedness--set to winsome melodies or gnarled guitar chords and run through battered equipment--were the makings of some of the best indie-rock of the early 1990s. On Defend Yourself, Sebadoh’s first studio album since 1999, Lou Barlow still has them all.
  23. Sep 17, 2013
    90
    There are country-fried flourishes like "State of Mine" and "Can't Depend," but everything hangs together on one of Sebadoh's most eclectic and rewarding releases.
  24. Dec 10, 2013
    70
    To counter the straightforward songs there's a raucous stoop-start freakout on the likes of "Beat" and "Separate." [Sep 2013, p.63]
  25. 60
    While it’s good to have Sebadoh back thrashing around in the unfurnished basement of the music industry once again, you just wonder how much better the results would have been if they had a complete album’s worth of material that proved worthy of their return.
  26. Sep 19, 2013
    70
    For the most part, the album stands as one of the stronger reunion records in a year that’s been practically overrun with them.
  27. Oct 30, 2013
    60
    Separate--one of a few songs (along with the slightly annoying sludge march of Beat, the frenetic whimsy of Inquiries and the juddering instrumental Once) that falls just short of those huge expectations. But when this record hits the mark, it’s very good indeed.
  28. 80
    Gloriously unpolished--and it feels very one-take--this is vintage American indie rock from experts in the field. [Oct 2013, p.90]
  29. 80
    While a product of hard times, Defend Yourself is a joyful listen and welcome addition to the Sebadoh catalog. It will please any fan of the band and also wouldn't be a bad jumping-off point for a new listener.

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