Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond




Download: Dinosaur Jr. - "Almost Ready"
Download: Dinosaur Jr. - "I Got Lost"

Dinosaur Jr.
Beyond (Fat Possum, 2007)
Grade: B

Well, here’s the clearest way I can sum up Beyond, the highly anticipated record from Dinosaur Jr., which is the first new album from the original line-up responsible for classics like Bug and You’re Living All Over Me in over twenty years: In the context of other alt-rock reunions, it’s not the triumph that On OFF On was, but it’s not the disaster known as The Weirdness either.

Dinosaur Jr. is renowned for marrying Neil Young sad-puppy vocals with a blistering hard-rock attack. This combination is essentially responsible for both shoegazer and grunge music.

When hearing these new songs for the first time, it becomes clear that any of the legendary animosity between J. Mascis and Lou Barlow has subsided, for now. On Beyond, the first few songs like “Almost Ready” and “Back To Your Heart” unequivocally demonstrate that, via the original lineup getting back together after all of these years, Dinosaur Jr. has rediscovered its joie de vivre.

Which is all fine and good, but as the record reaches its middle and end, a lot of the songs become repetitive in terms of song structure and overall sound. It’s as if the band got too carried away with the fact that they weren’t killing one another to write any music that greatly varied from one song to the next.

To be fair, Dinosaur Jr. does stretch out some musically – namely with more gentle numbers like “I Got Lost” – but those efforts are marred by the increasingly tedious rockers which came before them.

Still, a decent Dinosaur Jr. album is better than a bad or unnecessary one. On those terms, Beyond (and maybe those terms alone) is a success.

(Jonathan Graef)

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