The brand new album from alternative indie rockers Dinosaur Jr, ‘Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not’ finally touched down this month after the hyped up single releases for ‘Tiny’ and ‘Goin’ Down’. Over a thirty year life-span, this is the prehistoric reptilian giant’s 11th studio album, or more notably it’s their fourth album since reuniting with the original band members in 2005, after an 8 year lapse. Artwork provided by German contemporary artist Daniel Richter.
The album kicks off with high-energy guitar muscle doing what the three piece indie-rockers have always done well, in the form of ‘Goin’ Down’ and ‘Tiny’. Both tunes are instantly appealing and decidedly what nostalgic fans will be blood-thirsty for, as well as being easily digestible for the discerning newcomer too. Donning catchy heavy pop rock melodies while blasting out J Mascis‘ trademark blistering guitar solos, while Lou Barlow and Murph provide tightly woven bass rhythms and tub-thumping drum grooves.
After the singles are out of the way, I found that the album takes a few more listens to sink in. On the third song, ‘Be A Part’, as well as the two Barlow penned songs, ‘Love Is’ and ‘Left-Right’, ‘Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not’ takes a mellower pace compared to past Dino outings; while not completely diverting off the heavy noise-rock terrain with the likes of ‘I Walk For Miles’. The album is more akin to a band version of some of Mascis’ acoustic albums, which in my opinion doesn’t take anything away from the songs in the slightest. Lou Barlow’s tuneful voice contrasts J Mascis gravelly groan so much that I surprisingly thought I was listening to Michael Stipe! That’s not to say that one or the other is better or worse. It’s true that Barlow is alot easier to decipher on this record, but J Mascis creates a world unto his own that is inimitable.
‘I Told Everyone’ and ‘Good To Know’ are classic rock tunes that tip they’re hats to cross-Atlantic influences Fleetwood Mac and The Cure, and retaining their heavy grunge sentiment with squealing wah-wahs and metal riffing. While ‘Lost All Day’ sounds like a revisitation to the ‘Without A Sound'(1994) or (my favourite) ‘Where you Been'(1993) era. ‘Knocked Around’ is wistful and breezy with its floaty falsetto vocals and overdubbed guitars while the hanging distorted bass lines and drums carry the weight of the song until it descends into noise riffs and guitar solos winding back the clock to Dinosaur’s 1988 indie classic,‘Bug’. ‘Mirror’ on the other hand is a vocally melodic tune with some lovely guitar intermissions, that poke through the rhythm and unveil a sinless love for melody, pattern and guitar refrains.
As with their previous album, ‘I Bet On Sky’ (2012), ‘GAGOWYN’ was recorded in Mascis’ home studio, but here the final mix is noisier, and can be heard throughout the album, while feedback screeches songs to a halt. I quite like this aspect of their recording though. It shows a band, at this stage very comfortable in their own skin not needing to gloss things up too much, and just get on with the job.
For the most part, I don’t think Dinosaur Jr have ever really put a foot wrong in their songwriting. They keep a very consistent palette throughout, and like many great bands they have forged a sound that makes them instantly recognisable; as with the likes of Queen, Ramones, Motorhead or ACDC. For me I suppose that’s why I like this band so much, they’re not quite running on autopilot like many people have suggested, but they’re not quite going for disco either; and within the simple dynamic of Dinosaurs Jrs’ elements they are innovative and are still putting out really good music.
Dinosaur Jr. are an indie rock band born from 80’s hardcore rock and punk, they hit the big leagues during the 90’s grunge wave, and are still killing it with great music, well worth your time and hard-earned buck.
Check out ‘Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not’ out on Jagjaguwar over on their website now – http://www.dinosaurjr.com/