Pre-grunge, slacker-era alternative rock doesn’t age as badly as
other trends, since American indie bands before Nirvana mostly strived
to sound different. For Dinosaur Jr., the goal was always pure
bubblegum pop buried beneath layers of crushing guitars, with catchy
melodies nearly rendered moot by singer/guitarist J Mascis’ distinctive
Tom Petty-with-a-head-wound vocal delivery.
Mascis and co. (drummer Murph and bassist Lou Barlow) are true
originals; you can never mistake them for another act. Farm, the
band’s ninth album and their first for the Jagjaguwar label, picks up
where 2007’s Beyond, a brilliant return from a ten-year hiatus,
left off, even if it exchanges streamlined song structures for a varied
attack. Case in point: “Plans,” a seven-minute tune that simply glides
courtesy of open-chord arpeggios and Barlow’s high-end fretting. The
solo here is particularly emotive, and you certainly must admire Mascis
for working hard to avoid repetition and refusing to be lazy.
Further, the bright, shiny and effortless chorus in “Over It,” along
with Mascis’ signature searing wah-wah pedal fuzz, prove Dinosaur Jr.
isn’t just punching the clock for this post-reunion effort. Indeed,
once you experience the delirious wallop of “There’s No Here” or the
fluttering hammer-ons of “See You,” you’ll be scouring the house for a
VHS copy of 1991: The Year Punk Broke. (Jagjaguwar)