Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Sebadoh: Harmacy [Sub Pop, 1996]
Pry the black plastic backing from the jewel box and decipher the credits on the nether side of the rear insert--a perfect metaphor for how public these coy alternastars are willing to go. Note that Lou Barlow's tuneful songs focus on his achy breaky voice, while Jason Lowenstein's rockin' ones lead with his sloppy riffs. Figure that Barlow needs Lowenstein because by itself his material would be indigestible--the indie-rock version of a peanut butter and jelly diet. But admit that Lowenstein would be a loud cipher without Barlow, who I only wish did like Ann Powers says and paraded his faults to prove his honesty. As with all self-made wimps, the hustle is more insidious--his honesty is supposed to justify his faults. It doesn't. The tunes do. A-