Dinosaur Jr have consistently released album after album of noisy rock and sunshine-smeared fuzz pop for the better part of four decades. Starting out in the noise scene of early 80s indie/punk rock with the likes of Sonic Youth, Husker Du, and Yo La Tengo, the three piece led by J Mascis has morphed their feedback-laced songs into more nuanced, almost folk rock(folk rock that’s definitely plugged in.) But with their latest Sweep It Into Space(co-produced by Kurt Vile), the band is at their most uplifting and optimistic-sounding. This record is the closest Dino Jr has come to sounding like the acoustic-led J Masic solo records. The band’s pop tendencies shine through here.
Of course, don’t think that just because the band sounds optimistic that they don’t rock. “I Met The Stones” is as close as Dino Jr has come to all-out heavy metal. That chugging riff could just as easily be influenced by Judas Priest as Neil Young. Pure unadulterated riffage. “I Ran Away” is a country-tinged rocker. The Kurt Vile vibes are all over this one, but then again the J Mascis vibes are all over Kurt Vile so it’s sort of a musical version of what came first, the chicken or the egg(Mascis did, of course.) “Hide Another Round” is another chugging riff and bombastic drum and bass extravaganza. One of the most underappreciated rhythm sections in rock is Lou Barlow and Murph. These two know how to lay down a solid foundation.
Speaking of Barlow, “Garden” and “You Wonder” are two great Barlow-penned tracks. His vocals are reminiscent of the late Nick Drake, and never more so than on “Garden”.
From the sunny “And Me” and “Take It Back” to the pummeling “I Expect It Always” and “Walking To You” Dinosaur Jr have made an album that never lets up and keeps us engaged throughout all 12 tracks. For a band going into their fourth decade of making music, they still sound very much locked into the groove.
Sweep It Into Space is the best Dinosaur Jr album in years, and maybe even their best since the original line-up’s reunion in 2005. It highlights the pop melodies that are sometimes lost in layers of fuzz, and is the closest a full-on Dino Jr album has come to capturing Mascis’ softer side.
8.1 out of 10