Album review: Dinosaur Jr - 'Farm'
Fierce, brooding, terse – Mascis, Lou and Murph return to their fuzzy late ’80s roots
Why don’t you like me…?” wailed bassist Lou Barlow like a deranged fishwife (a rather prophetic one at that) on the final track of Dinosaur Jr’s 1988 album ‘Bug’. It was an album that not only preceded Nirvana’s loud, fuzz-rock melodies (sans the mainstream adulation, of course), but also Barlow’s unceremonious sacking from the band he’d initiated as a kid with eventual guitar hero J Mascis and drummer Emmett Patrick ‘Murph’ Murphy III. With their turbulent history peppered with misery, schoolboy spats and more melodrama than an episode of Friends, it’s anyone’s guess why the trio decided to kiss and make up in true rom-com fashion back in 2005.
But that they did, and now the founding members of the band are here once more as Dinosaur Jr MK II, following up 2007’s ‘Beyond’ with ‘Farm’, a record that gloriously cultivates the essence
of what Dinosaur have stood for since they formed some 25 years ago – basically, blinding extended guitar solos (unthinkable in the world of hardcore that they grew up in) with added feedback and distorted folksy melodies, all at tinnitus-inducing levels.
In taking one step backwards from the emotionally charged ‘Beyond’, Dinosaur have taken several steps back into their past. Eschewing the bombast of their latest incarnation, they’ve embraced the rawer, more amateurish intensity found on their self-titled debut and its caustic follow-up, ‘You’re Living All Over Me’.
There’s no denying that the raucous thrash of ‘I Don’t Wanna Go There’, Mascis’ laconic drawl on ‘Oceans In The Way’ and the pop-punctured feistiness of ‘Over It’ are fairly typical of old-school Dinosaur, while the broodiness of the Barlow-penned tracks (‘Your Weather’ and ‘Imagination Blind’) seems like sneaking the bassist’s other outfit, lo-fi legends Sebadoh, through the back door – not a new tactic, judging by ‘You’re Living All Over Me’’s closer ‘Poledo’.
There’s also no denying the power of their bittersweet, socially inept aggression, and the ferocity of their sound on ‘Farm’. But, as truly gifted as Mascis is on the guitar and as surly as Barlow is vocally, this is merely Dinosaur fossilised, leaving you hankering for something a little more daring – just because you know they could do it, easily. But I suppose that’s nostalgia for you – it’s one hell of a seductive liar.
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