Lou Barlow sounds reflective and tuneful on first solo album in four years

Just because the Dinosaur Jr. reconciliation is working out beyond anyone’s expectations doesn’t mean that Lou Barlow doesn’t still have musical ideas outside the scope of the Amherst, Mass., band.

The once-and-future Dinosaur bassist — who has also kept busy with Sebadoh and Folk Implosion — follows his own muse on “Goodnight Unknown” (Merge), his first solo album since 2005’s “Emoh.”

It’s a varied collection, ranging from the chugging opener “Sharing” to the quiet, tuneful folk-pop of “The One I Call” to terse clanking on “Praise,” which features layered vocals and a guitar line meandering over the top of the song between verses.

The former song is more representative of the overall sound of “Goodnight Unknown.” It’s a reflective album, and Barlow sounds wistful as he sings to a lover on “Take Advantage” and philosophical on “Too Much Freedom,” which features harmonies from Lisa Germano.

Other collaborators here include Melvins drummer Dale Crover and Imaad Wasif, who worked with Karen O on the soundtrack to “Where the Wild Things Are.” Together with Barlow, they’ve created an album both understated and compelling.

Text by Eric R. Danton, photo by Eric Fermin Perez

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