sat 08/05/2021

Album: Dinosaur Jr - Sweep It Into Space | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Dinosaur Jr - Sweep It Into Space

Album: Dinosaur Jr - Sweep It Into Space

Amherst's favourite grunge sons serve up another near flawless album

When Laurence Binyon wrote: “Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn…” he was, of course, talking about the fallen soldiers of World War One, not Amherst’s premier hardcore grunge punks.

When Laurence Binyon wrote: “Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn…” he was, of course, talking about the fallen soldiers of World War One, not Amherst’s premier hardcore grunge punks. However, on hearing Sweep It Into Space, Dinosaur Jr.’s fifth album since their unexpected 2007 rebirth, it could easily apply to J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph.

A lot has been written, much of it here, about the trio’s glacial evolution since their 1985 debut, and Sweep… certainly has all the familiar ingredients perfectly preserved in its slowly shifting ice. There’s heavy riffs, chopping rhythms, plaintive vocals and beautifully emotive lead lines that go right for the guts.

What is surprising is how urgent they still sound painting new pictures with these same primary colours, and how much variation they manage to find – how much new room to move. Opener “I Ain’t” is, perhaps, the most quintessential Dinosaur Jr moment here, the thick, staccato strata of Mascis’ weighty guitar counterpointed by the bewildered frailty of his plaintive lyric, “I ain’t getting along/Can’t quite face it/Wish you’d bring me home.”

This delicate balance is also evident on the first of Lou Barlow’s songs, “Garden”. “The center’s holding/And can’t be broken” sings a cautiously optimistic Barlow, over a guitar motif that builds on the firm foundations of Murph’s drumming. It’s a welcome reminder that Dinosaur Jr boast two exceptional songwriters and, although Barlow paints from his own palette, he does so in complementary colours. When Mascis’ obligatory guitar solo appears, it doesn’t seem bolted on, it feels like a collaborative move.

Given their history, through original line-up to one-man-band and back again, Dinosaur Jr have become a self-sustaining force – happy to plunder aspects of their back catalogue rather than look outside for influence. The lurching chords and breezy pace of “Hide Another Round”, for example, showcases the band’s uncanny ability to pivot from distorted noise to pop poise in the space of a single bar while jumping on no one else’s “Wagon” but their own.

And when an unconscious cameo does creep in, it’s The Cure. Of course it is. The unmistakeable “In between Days” chime of the acoustic on “And Me”, nods to a comparison that is fitting in every way. Like The Cure, Dinosaur Jr have spent an entire career producing near flawless albums full of heavily disguised pop songs. And they’ve made it seem effortless.

Sweep It Into Space is no different – and all the better for it.  

@jahshabby

Dinosaur Jr have become a self-sustaining force – happy to plunder aspects of their back catalogue rather than look outside for influence

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Thanks for identifying 'in between days', it was driving me mad knowing I that knew that acoustic part but having a blank on where it came from!

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