In the ever-shifting spheres of indie and (semi-) popular music, today’s It Boy/Girl is destined to be tomorrow’s has-been. Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow doesn’t have to worry about such petty things. Goodnight Unknown finds him aging (a recurring theme) but quite gracefully. The album begins with the roaring, pounding cadence of “Sharing”; its mini-wall of sound production and haunting vocal melody sound like Phil Spector producing latter-day Hüsker Dü. Barlow’s hushed, diaphanous Nick Drake-like vocals are captivatingly winsome and wise-sounding on the medium-fast strummer “Too Much Freedom” (which includes some subtle country undertones) and the pensive yet oddly lilting “I’m Thinking ... .” Driven by acoustic guitars, the overall tone is folksy and contemplative, yet Goodnight remains effervescent throughout, never lapsing into coffeehouse open-mic-night self-absorption. — Mark Keresman
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