Two years ago, Dinosaur Jr. returned with its original trio to deliver one of 2007’s best albums. Asserting itself as the loud and grunge master it sincerely is, J Mascis and crew have now found their fountain of youth with Farm. An album every bit as good as Beyond, it’s time to realize that not only is Dinosaur Jr. back, but the group sounds better than ever.
Just look at that album cover, how cool is that? It opens up to reveal a lushly painted palette of hazy artwork. If the music was even half as neat as that, we’d be in store for something magnificent. Well, the good news is that the music on Farm is meatier, lengthier and in many ways, bests the highest highs on Beyond. At first listen, “Ocean in the Way” sounds like your usual ballad: tempo taken back, reflective and yearning but Mascis’ guitar shines with a maniacal gleam. Singing with his bandmates, Lou Barlow and Murph, in full support, Mascis reaches levels of melodic supremacy with every note he plays.
It’s not like they have anything to prove but in many ways, the band leads on in that very prevalent manner. Here, the music is allowed to flourish and develop on its own and with Mascis at the production helm, he cranks up the volume to 11 allowing it to blast through your speakers. There are three songs that all top the six minute mark and they make for substantially deeper music. “Said the People” finds Mascis singing in a low croon, at times classic rock and at times guitar god, the music nestles between a clamoring of reverberation and a magical bridge. In a different way, “I Don’t Wanna Go There” is a rocking jam of the best kind. A kiss-off to a broken relationship, Mascis sings in his most absolutely blunt self, “I am gone,” and his guitar solo is one of the angriest, ripping and torrid ones on the entire album.
Everything begins with a bang with “Pieces”‘ spectacular opening notes. And from here on out, every single song’s pulling grasp is one that is just as much enthralling as it is riveting. There’s the asking of a lending hand on the booming “Friends” and the radiant moonlight of “Plans,” each unmistakably spellbinding in their own way.
This all makes for tremendously awesome music and there is no hiding exactly what kind of music this is. If you came looking for a softly gentle and hushed album then you reached a dead end. Fortunately, if you’ve seen the happy-go-lucky video for “Over It,” Dinosaur Jr. doesn’t make that style of music. The music’s deafening and it’s astonishing that these are the sounds three, now much older and wiser, men are creating. The melodies are brighter, the hooks are catchier and heck, even their songwriting chops have been sharpened. Barlow’s songs are still easily recognizable but “Your Weather”‘s fast-paced fuzz and “Imagination Blind”‘s stoner demeanor are outstanding additions to Farm.
This is one mighty album, one that will tower over others like the green shrubs that tower over the buildings on the cover. It’s amazingly brilliant and will endlessly reward with repeated listens. On a side note, if you haven’t given the band’s second through fourth albums a listen, they are downright essential. For one, they’re a lot shorter than the hour-long tour that Farm is, but are they as good? Well, the jury’s going to be out on that one for quite some time.
“I Want You to Know” by Dinosaur Jr.