The Upshot: Lou, Murph and J.’s finest stuff since You’re Living All Over Me? Quite possibly…. as vital, fresh and relevant as they’ve ever been in 31 years.
BY BARRY ST. VITUS
In one word, SPEC-tacular! Ten albums and about 24 EPs after launching on the late, beloved Homestead imprint in ’85, originally as Dinosaur, can we call them Dinosaur Sr. finally?
This, the fourth album since Lou, Murph and J. reunited, finds them flying high in the holyshitosphere, with what may be their finest stuff since You’re Living All Over Me. It showcases their energetic writing and playing; and as always, J’s signature guitar-voice is remarkable and patently individualistic. From first listen, I was swept away, as well as very impressed by almost every song. They’re as vital, fresh and relevant as they’ve ever been in 31 years, which few other groups of that vintage can boast. While a tune like “Lost All Day” i.e. is a great throwback to their good ol’ days, circa YLAOM and Bug, most contributions throb with fresh energy, flavor and are played with vigorosity by the trio. Screaming Females ace-guitarist, Marissa Paternoster, commenting on J.’s guitar playing and its influence on so many other guitarists over the years, quipped, “They can’t hold a candle to him…they might burn his hair.”
Power-chord bursts blast off initial track “Goin’ Down” prompting a high-voltage reminder of what you used to love about their music originally. “Tiny” is being showcased as the ‘Hit’ to check out here, and it is indeed a shining example of everything you expect from their music, with J.’s comforting vocals and enraptured guitar licks throughout, strongly invoking Husker Du or Bob Mould.
Things decelerate on “Be A Part,” which is more about being apart, a rather heart-tugging and forlorn lament. A very riveting riff begins the mid-tempo “I Told Everyone,” and continues throughout the song, burrowing under your skin as it repeats itself, eventually lifting off and soaring into sweeping vistas. “Love Is” takes a sweet turn into a folk-rock direction with an almost Byrds-y or Bevis Frond execution.
Tachycardiacal beats return with “Good To Know,” with plentiful fuzzy wah-wah blasts sandwiched in. “I Walk For Miles” excels in showcasing J.’s explorative noodling on the bridge, and Barlow’s leaden bass stomping mightily like an irate giant in the background. “Lost All Day” is another great throwback to their early stuff, so much so, you’d almost swear that you remember it.
“Knocked Around” starts in a slow and mellow mode, very lovely, then, about halfway through pauses, and almost like a backslash dividing the song, suddenly detonates, shifting into classic Dinosaur Fucking Jr. fire and brimstone gear with searing guitar discharges.
If you’ve ever found yourself in the position of just tossing in the towel with a relationship, then “Mirror” is the track for you. A rather melancholy reflection, reiterating that at this point, it’s all a total waste of time and heading for the door. Song 11, the reflective “Left/Right,“ completes the collection with a shuffling, brooding piece that I’m guessing was penned by Barlow, as it smacks of G.B.V.
Current fans as well as those who’ve let the band fall off their radar, should all be enthralled and enraptured experiencing the power and the glory of this album. Raise up your arms and shout Hallelujah! brothers and sisters!
Kidding…I just wanted to see how high I could crank up the hyperbole, but, it is at least pretty damn spectacular.
DOWNLOAD: “Love Is,” “I Told Everyone“ and “Goin’ Down.“