Why oh why haven’t we talked about Dinosaur Jr. before? Is it because we all know the story of them breaking up into three different acts and getting back together in the original lineup about a decade later? Is it because they have been around that long that you just don’t notice them anymore? Or is it because we forgot about them after the hit album Without a Sound (1994) and only lightly picked them up again after seeing them live in 2016? Well, we have to keep you guessing and while you’re busy with that we’ll provide some coverage of the band’s latest effort Sweep It Into Space. Indeed, if you’ve been following us, an album we have been anticipating for two years now.
After the sublime 2016 release Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph are back at it again on Sweep It Into Space. This time however they get some productional help from guitar hero Kurt Vile who also lighty plays along in some spare sections. From the first seconds on it’s clear that we are dealing with Dinosaur Jr. record. The layered guitars and laidback flow of I Ain’t directly adds to distinctive loud slacker rock we know so well. Normally we would say that this is a form of stagnation which is the prelude to decline so why linsten any further? Yet, when it comes to new work of Dinosaur Jr. usually the opposite happens: after the opener you want to hear one more, and one more and after that you’re hooked once again.
Dinosaur Jr. displays all sorts of rock on Sweep It Into Space. I Met The Stones is filled with power chords that directly refer to the 80s hard rock scene while To Be Waiting is a brooding song which is built around a great fuzzed-out guitar solo. Kurt Vile appears on the breezy I Ran Away on which he harmonically duels a bit with Mascis. The band almost overheats between the poppy choruses and rocky riffings of Hide Another Round and I Expect It Always. The energy that the band still has in it oozes from the speakers here.
And Me is another notable song which almost becomes too catchy if it wasn’t for the clear rootsy Dinosaur Jr. signature that Mascis was able to weave through. It’s songs like this that give Sweep It Into Space more groove then it’s 2016 predecessor. On Take It Back the band overplays it’s hand a bit. For a bunch of guys who are well into their fifties this song sounds too fleet-footed. Lou Barlow takes the vocal lead on the bass-heavy and angular Garden and the softhearted closer You Wonder. Both songs have that certain light psychedelic Sebadoh-vibe in it. We probably like You Wonder best but have to admit that Barlow’s closer to Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not was more fitting.
Mascis, Barlow and Murph have been playing on a high level for quite some time now. With Sweep It Into Space the veterans of Dinosaur Jr. deliver yet another solid album, proving that they are still top of the bill. Obviously they haven’t drastically changed their sonic palette but instead the band has become more elegant and sounds refreshed. Sweep It Into Space therefore will be irresistible mostly to those who were young decades ago. So turn up those amps and rock on!
Label: Jagjaguwar, 2021
Buy it here: https://shop.bingomerch.com/collections/dinosaur-jr
- I Ain’t (4:11)
- I Met the Stones (3:45)
- To Be Waiting (4:12)
- I Ran Away (3:30)
- Garden (3:02)
- Hide Another Round (3:58)
- And Me (3:35)
- I Expect It Always (3:39)
- Take It Back (4:02)
- N Say (3:15)
- Walking to You (4:41)
- You Wonder (3:03)
Review by Wander Meulemans // 060621