DINOSAUR JR – Farm (Jagjaguwar)
This is Dinosaur Jr’s second album since they got back together four years ago, but the first that I have tried as I thought that I would be disappointed if they had lost that old sparkle that I loved back in the day. As it turns out they haven’t changed a bit, as ‘Pieces’ confirms when it bursts from the speakers in a squall of guitar and J Mascis’ laconic vocals. ‘I Want You To Know’ shows that ‘Pieces’ wasn’t just put there to lull you in, being another great guitar drenched pop song – just what the old Dinosaur used to do so well – and featuring the first of Mascis’ trademark solos. ‘Ocean In The Way’ slows down the pace, but it was generally these slower tracks that allowed Mascis to pull off his best guitar solos, and while the solo here is kept disappointingly brief it is still one of his most emotive. ‘Plans’ world-weary lyric is typical Dinosaur Jr, and stretching it out to six and half minutes give Mascis a chance to shine on the guitar. Lou Barlow’s first contribution ‘Your Weather’ is noticeably lighter in tone, more in keeping with his former band Sebadoh, but the band give it their all and it is a welcome addition to the album. ‘Over It’ is another guitar-fuelled rocker, with a surprisingly upbeat lyric, basically telling you that if you have a problem to ‘get over it’. ‘Friends’ is quite a commercial offering – short, succinct, tuneful, but still loud enough to burst your eardrums. ‘Said The People’ is another lengthy slowie, and as is to be expected on these tracks Mascis pulls off a couple of stunning solos. ‘See You’ is an oddly commercial little number, with the volume turned down and the playfulness turned up, but it works as a prelude to ‘I Don’t Wanna Go There’, which now sounds even more explosive by comparison. It is almost nine minutes of classic Dinosaur Jr, nearly half of which is an ear-shredding guitar solo, and would be the perfect way to close the album. Odd, then, that Barlow’s other contribution ‘Imagination Blindness’ is tagged onto the end of the disc, almost as an afterthought, and therefore suffers by following the onslaught that was ‘I Don’t Wanna Go There’. Sequenced earlier it would have sounded much better, but that is a minor quibble about such a great album. Basically, if you liked Dinosaur Jr in their heyday then you will love this album. I can’t recall a band that has got back together after such a lengthy hiatus and then just carried on as if they had popped out for coffee and donuts – everything that was great about them then is still intact, and this is a superb addition to their catalogue.