Dinosaur Jr. - Farm
by Geoffrey Anstey
Dinosaur Jr.’s new LP is hardly a new act from the alt-rock pioneers, but this is nothing to be deterred by, as watching them cavalierly stroll the indie tightrope is as entertaining as ever. The only difference found on Farm, and to a lesser extent their previous album Beyond, is that some of the messier aspects of the band’s sound have been washed away, leading the effort to resemble grunge more than any of the Dinosaur Jr. albums released in the 1990s. This is amplified by the fact that J. Mascis’ age-eroded voice is starting to have the timbre of Eddie Vedder’s—but, man, does Mascis’ guitar still have the same glorious tone. As lackadaisical as the man’s groans can be, there’s so much joy and excitement in Mascis’ leads—searing, even—that it’s clear he relishes each time he gets to show how much better at guitar he is than you.
Case and point is “I Don’t Want to Go There,” Dinosaur Jr.’s stab at a sprawling, Neil Young-esque guitar epic, which is much in the vein of Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand.” The song isn’t as inspired as that classic rock staple, but the guitar playing is arguably better. with more than half of its nine minutes dedicated to Mascis’ guitar work, wonderfully twisting and soaring above the hook’s grimy squalls.
The rest of Farm’s songs aren’t bad, either, with most of them fitting in fine with Dinosaur Jr.’s beloved canon. The band’s love of beautifying sludge still runs rampant, and on tracks like as “Pieces’ and “Over It,” slow-moving, distorted riffs still manage to glitter and shine. Elsewhere the band shows they still know how to toss around a riff, adding some spring to “See You” and “I Want You to Know.”
However, with the cut in feedback and the steady paces, some of the songs can sound a bit tired. The direct style of the song-writing doesn’t help, either, repetition only heightening this dulling effect, and at points the band sounds downright exhausted. Usually, this is ameliorated when the solos pop up and the song takes some direction—as on “Ocean in the Way,” which seems to wake up halfway through before becoming one of the album’s standouts. That lack of urgency gets frustrating at times, but it also keeps thing organic and at a casual pace. Farm makes few missteps but mostly proves a consistent, satisfying, and arguably equal successor to Beyond.
—geoffrey ansteyblog comments powered by Disqus
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