Wednesday, 5 September 2007



The second Dinosaur Jr record is perhaps their strongest collection of songs where all elements appear to click. Its amazing from the off as “Little Fury Things” opens the album with a frenzied bout of drumming from Murph coupled with fizzling wah licks from J and Lou screaming in the distance. Then just before the record sounds as if it may implode within the opening seconds it all calms down as the soothing and pained vocals of Mr Mascis drawl in calming things down and a sense of emotional longing gets attached to the song.

Dinosaur Jr is a band all about the volume, of producing a devastating wave of distortion while Mascis wails in a Neil Young fashion. No song better demonstrates this than “Sludgefeast”, an uncompromising ditty that floors the listener immediately with its extended and layered introduction half Sonic Youth half garage. This is easily one of the most outstanding (and understated) songs of the era. As the crushing first few moments kick the listener in the balls a staunch blast of devastating noodling encapsulates the piece as somewhere somebody’s heart explodes as J steps in with yet more wails of longing in a Neil Young. In the middle of the song if calms down to a pin drop before launching into one last flurry of energy and noise.

The record continues to fly with “The Lung” which likewise plays a wicked trick on the listener with a blunt tempo change/charge. It is however “Raisins” that sticks the hooks back in with delicate guitar stabs before an anthemic chorus of “I’ll be down, I’ll be around” which is a very slacker sentiment, one hardly likely to succeed in the real world. To be honest though on this track Mascis’ mind appears to be more on his guitar solo than getting his end away.

Songs such as “In A Jar” demonstrate the wonderful bounce that Barlow possesses in his bass playing in a track where Mascis’ guitar is initially barely audible at a moment where he appears to be stuck struggling with his existence. Of course he rips loose towards the end.

Later “Lose” again demonstrates just how much influence and presence Barlow possessed in the band first time round delivering vocals in a very different but complimentary method compared to the drawl of Mascis. On the album “Lose” proves one of the more subtly devastating moments as everyone gets along and everybody wins.

“Poledo” stands out like a sore thumb as the ukulele strumming Barlow displays a more playful and inventive side, one you suspect may have been much to the other’s chagrin. The real strength however is in his vocal and lyrical delivery.

I always thought covering The Cure was a strange decision as the song would have been very contemporary at the time but you cannot argue with the results as Dinosaur improve on the original several times over as Barlow’s bass playing makes the song their own long before the eventual wig out from Mascis that comes in the form of explosive guitar and sheet screaming at the chorus stage that turns the goth pop classic into something very Kerrang and metallic. You have to wonder just what Robert Smith must have made of it all.

A second cover appeared on the SST version of the record in the form of Peter Frampton’s “Show Me The Way” but this was something of a more trad run out and not really worth writing home, so it came as something of a relief when it disappeared.

Criminally for a long time this record was out of print as SST continued to do strange things with their back catalogue but thanks to the reformation shows as part of the All Tomorrows Parties’ Don’t Look Back series of gig a devastating record truly regained its crown at a time when history wasn’t quite paying it enough credence.

To this day the band sounds like no other.

Thesaurus moment: suffocation.

Dinosaur Jr
Dinosaur Jr live
SST Records
Merge Records

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