Dinosaur Jr.: I Bet on Sky
With lineup changes, control issues and a lengthy hiatus, Dinosaur Jr. is well-versed in friction. Thankfully, these days the only roughness is in the band’s signature, unpolished sound. The original lineup is back to deliver the band’s tenth studio album.
J. Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph have managed to sound as fresh as they did more than twenty years ago when they were first starting out. Their alternative sound combines distortion and feedback with a solid beat and deft guitar solos. Mascis and Barlow’s subdued, melodic vocal delivery ties together the beauty and chaos of the music, giving it a solid anchor.
Mascis’ riffs are intricate, lending a sense of barely contained control to songs like “I Know It Oh So Well” and the sprawling, moving closer “See It On Your Side.” Modern anxiety, waiting, loneliness: these themes appear throughout the record, and the plaintive tones through the lyrics demonstrate why Dinosaur Jr. can still maintain an audience that still just wants to rock.
The two songs Barlow penned, the wonderfully distorted “Rude” and guitar-laden “Recognition,” are my favorites and a sign that the band continues to work brilliantly since their reunion. Musicians who are only as old as the band is ought to take note of these veterans and their loud, confident resurgence.