I got into Dinosaur Jr. in an ass-backwards way. In the early 2000s I watched The O.C. because I thought it would offer a conversation starter with girls I didn’t know how to start a conversation with. Instead, I ended up with a hidden addiction that would have probably gone over worse than crack with my friends. An accidental benefit, the equivalent of learning the aforementioned drug is chock full of vitamin B, was the discovery of some mixtape-worthy music thanks to music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas.
It was somehow where I first heard Lou Barlow, and that’s what led me to a long, slow, rock-filled dive into the Dinosaur Jr. oeuvre. Their 10th album, I Bet on Sky, offers a shortcut through their solid, sonic history. A jangly rock throw-down with a nostalgic center and a confident drive that ends up capturing everything that’s great about the band. From the first track, “Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know,” the album establishes a loud and unapologetic sound. And just like the bulk of the band’s indie rock-defining work, I Bet on Sky isn’t content to simply balance noisy choruses and powerful riffs. It has melodic moments like “Almost Fare” and plenty of the kind of forlorn roaring that makes “Watch the Corners” an instant repeat.
It’s both a trip to the ‘90s that could have been if the Mascis, Barlow, Murph line-up had stuck together and a revival of their collective rock roots, a crashing wave of unrelenting solos, hard-tossed vocals and gain-heavy grinds.