Defend Yourself

  • Record Label: Domino
  • Release Date: Sep 17, 2013

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
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  1. Q Magazine
    Jan 27, 2014
    A return with soul and fire. [Oct 2013, p.110]
  2. The Wire
    Dec 10, 2013
    To counter the straightforward songs there's a raucous stoop-start freakout on the likes of "Beat" and "Separate." [Sep 2013, p.63]
  3. Nov 21, 2013
    Grounded in the fertile terrain of terminal relationships, the warm, unadorned album comes undone by undercooked songwriting.
  4. Oct 30, 2013
    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.
  5. Classic Rock Magazine
    Oct 23, 2013
    Gloriously unpolished--and it feels very one-take--this is vintage American indie rock from experts in the field. [Oct 2013, p.90]
  6. Sep 23, 2013
    When Defend Yourself starts attacking, it's as if Clinton never left the White House.
  7. Sep 23, 2013
    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.
  8. Sep 23, 2013
    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.
  9. Sep 20, 2013
    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.
  10. 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.
  11. Magnet
    Sep 19, 2013
    Defend Yourself is virtually filler-less. [No. 102, p.52]
  12. Mojo
    Sep 19, 2013
    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]
  13. Sep 19, 2013
    For the most part, the album stands as one of the stronger reunion records in a year that’s been practically overrun with them.
  14. Entertainment Weekly
    Sep 18, 2013
    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. 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.
  16. Sep 18, 2013
    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.
  17. Uncut
    Sep 17, 2013
    The band's amiable punk-folk chunter lacks a little of its usual charm. [Oct 2013, p.74]
  18. Under The Radar
    Sep 17, 2013
    The new album comes a little short on those loud, grimier moments of release. [Aug-Sep 2013, p.94]
  19. Sep 17, 2013
    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.
  20. Sep 17, 2013
    The sound remains the same, but the songs aren’t always there.
  21. Sep 17, 2013
    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.
  22. Sep 17, 2013
    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.
  23. 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.
  24. Sep 17, 2013
    It’s a throwback, but there are some new twists, from the entrancing (“Listen”) to the goofy (“Inquiries”).
  25. Sep 16, 2013
    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.
  26. Sep 16, 2013
    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.
  27. 60
    This 10th album lacks such bite [as 1999’s single Flame].
  28. Sep 16, 2013
    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.
  29. Sep 16, 2013
    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.

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