|By Zach Patterson||Tuesday, 12 Jun 2007|
When you first get this album, there’s certain remarkable things about it. The album cover and art looks like it could follow up any of their first 3 albums without anyone thinking there’s a 20 year gap. The first track enters with a fuzzed out guitar lick that could just as easily be from 1989. The sound is bizarrely the same nearly 20 years later. While this could easily be a thing to criticize, considering that Dinosaur Jr had a nasty disbanding with Lou Barlow after Bug, and J. Mascis took the name and the band in more mainstream directions, it really is remarkable that by reforming the band now, there’s just this sound that the band emits that’s unmistakable.
The nebulous feel of this album is truly what makes it so good. It could easily fit in the 80′s output, and if you take out the songs Barlow sings on, this could be one of the 90′s post-Barlow albums and not many would question that either. It’s a testament to some strong songwriting by the band and simply learning from the past 20 years of fighting and moving on. As much as this is a great new album from a pioneer of indie and alternative rock, it is also a celebration of why they were good to start with. As always, the lyrics scream a certain lazy stoner vibe to them, but still manage to be poignant and touching at times thanks to the power of the music behind it (“I Got Lost” just feels emotional, from the minimal, somber instrumentation, to J.’s fragile falsetto). Additionally, having Barlow back presents itself obviously in the two songs he sings on (“Lightning Bulb” being my favorite) but his bass playing is also a welcome return and I think really gives the album the feel of the original three releases. And as always, J. Mascis freely inserts some indulgent, amazing guitar solos in songs like “Pick Me Up” and “We’re Not Alone” which you can’t help but smile and feel good about. There’s a certain emotion and happy vibe from his solos that you just can’t quite feel from other artists out there, almost like a feeling of freedom and release when he plays them.
Another thing that makes this album great is that unlike a lot of reunion albums, the album never really drops off. There isn’t one good iconic single and a bunch of middling crap from guys who have lost their touch. These are still amazing musicians who have buried the hatchet and released what I dare say is the most consistent album of their catalog of Dinosaur Jr albums. Every album under the name Dinosaur Jr has its great songs, but this is the first one I can easily say from start to finish is just solid, entertaining, and a complete album. There’s some rocking songs, some smaller, more intimate songs, some Barlow songs that add more depth, and a slow song here and there. It is more than any reunion album is expected to be, and the fact that it really never misses a beat from what people consider the heyday of the band is what makes this album even better.
It is, no doubt, an amazing reunion album of an highly influential band, but more importantly to me, it is just an amazing album. Fun to listen to the whole way through and has appeal to casual crowds, Dinosaur Jr fans of any era, and even hard to impress hipsters. I would feel like I was cheating Beyond if I gave it any less than a classic.