If you haven’t been swayed by the magic of Dinosaur Jr. before, don’t expect the newly released Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not to disengage the guitar-shaped lock off your brain.
Since their 2005 reunion more than a decade ago, the trio of J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph have released three albums of great, loud-as-hell rock music: nothing more, nothing less.
It’s as if the trio recorded a triple LP instead of just Beyond in 2005 and divvied the songs up by a few minor sonic similarities to steadily release albums when they saw fit.
Any other veteran band could be lambasted for delivering more of the same. However, the band’s got a steady, comfortable grip on what’s make them sound great together, and Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not is, so far, perhaps the best distillation of this loud, glossy sound.
Beyond, Farm and I Bet On Sky have obvious highlights, from “Been There All the Time” to “Over It” to “Pierce the Morning Rain,” respectively, but Give A Glimpse claims a tracklist where it’s hard to immediately pick out a “best” song. That’s because each track can stand on its own with small but significant details to help identify them beyond just another standard Dinosaur Jr. tune.
It’s the wah-wah guitar scratching against the chorus of “Good to Know,” or the shrugging resignation Mascis’ subtle vocal performance imbues into “Lost All Day.” On “Be A Part,” subtle organ hums in the background during the chorus to lend a bit of sunshine in an otherwise dour song.
Later, the wistful “Knocked Around” pulls a fun bait-and-switch by starting with a gentle Dinosaur Jr. at their most docile. “And I miss you all the time,” coos Mascis over silky guitar while Barlow and Murph carefully tap out a beat.
The track could continue as a gentle breeze and be a standout because of it, but instead, the band suddenly plummets the listener into one of the album’s most teeth-rattling jams before Mascis burns the previous few minutes down with a scorcher guitar solo.
While most of Dinosaur Jr’s material is 80 percent Mascis, Barlow, who normally turns in two pretty good songs per album, is at his absolute best in years here.
On both of his cuts, “Love Is…” and “Left/Right,” the Sebadoh frontman’s voice takes center stage, his lyrics terse but clear. “If you want it/I need it/if you could need/what I want” he belts as the album finishes.
We should probably never expect a labored-over concept album or some game-changing shift into an emerging genre. Dinosaur Jr. have played their historical part in shaping indie rock, and for now, seem content on just melting faces when they get the chance.