Tom Morello Kicks Out the Jams

The Folk Implosion – Walk Thru Me
Joyful Noise

Even by the standards of the post-Nirvana alt-rock boom, the Folk Implosion’s career arc was incredibly weird. Even stranger, Walk Thru Me sounds like they never left. They just got more consistent at their jobs. 

More from Spin:

But then again, nobody ever expected Lou Barlow and John Davis, the duo with the indie rock in-joke nickname, to be anything more than the sum of their parts. Barlow was one of the bigger presences within the American underground, first with Dinosaur Jr. and then with his own band Sebadoh, which toggled between loner acoustic ramblings (recorded at what seemed like negative fidelity) and extremely stoned-sounding power-trio blowouts. Davis was a librarian and songwriter with minimal public presence. As a team, their music was collage and loops and goofs and earnestness.

And then “Natural One,” released as a single in 1995 off the soundtrack to the movie Kids, was a comparative hit, with sales and plays outstripping anything either had done up to that point. Their next record was slightly confusing to new fans, and Davis left in 2000. The DNA of Folk Implosion and “Natural One” could be found everywhere from Junior Senior to New Pornographers to LCD Soundsystem, but nobody really knew it.

The band released a new solid EP in 2022 and then Music for Kids, the rest of their work for the movie, in 2023—yanking the sounds of 1995 into now, for the benefit of the streaming generation. Now there’s Walk Thru Me, the first album of new Implosion music since 2003, which picks up right where they left off. 

Written over the Internet—with rhythm tracks cut in person and ultimately produced in a real studio with Scott Solter (St. Vincent, Spoon, the Mountain Goats)—the record maintains their signatures, with breaks and samples undergirding or woven through indie rock guitar figures and extremely regular-person vocals. Barlow has a bit more control over his vibe now, but he still sounds like the ultimate ‘90s indie guy, detached and overly intense at the same time; Davis like the eccentric bedroom genius who wandered in from the Shire. 

Barlow’s parental “My Little Lamb” is sprightly guitar thrum, easy listening for parents sending their kids to college. “Bobblehead Doll” is one of Davis’ finest moments in forever: spacey New Wave pedals, a steady groove, and reedy vocals delivering epic indie pop of the old school. “The Fable and the Fact” sounds like a hilariously strong Sleater-Kinney song while album closer “Moonlit Kind” reminds you that Barlow has always had a crooner side, an inner Bryan Ferry itching to get as smooth as he can. 

Apparently it’s 1998 somewhere. GRADE: B+

To see our running list of the top 100 greatest rock stars of all time, click here.