The Godfathers of alternative Fuzz rock are back with twelve new songs on an album that will delight their long term fans and have new listeners scurrying to the Dinosaur Jr hefty back catalogue.
Dinosaur Jr. formed in Massachusetts in 1984 as a three-piece, consisting of J Mascis (guitar/vocal), Lou Barlow (bass/ vocals) and Murph (drums). They made some of the most influential alternative rock albums of the late ’80s and early 90’s such as Your Living All Over Me, Bug and Green Mind before tension led to Murph and then Barlow leaving. Barlow formed Sebado, and Mascis carried on with a few major label albums until disbanding the group in 1997. The original trio reformed in 2005 for television appearances and a tour, then recorded their triumphant come back album Beyond in 2007. Dinosaur Jr’s second wind has been blowing straight and true ever since.
Sweep It Into Space was recorded in 2019 after the band had finished touring, and the twelve songs have that “match fit” vibe about them. The band brought in the singer-songwriter Kurt Vile as co-producer, and he brings a more polished style to the album’s production.
The album opens with “I Ain’t”, in which Mascis confesses to being better with company. So from the start, Sweep It Into Space is composed of lovelorn songs, familiar territory for Dinosaur Jr. Mascis holds back from his characteristic guitar solos on “I Ain’t,” letting the melodies and guitar licks take the lead. However, the majority of the album finds Mascis in fine and often fierce form. On “I Meet The Stones”, his solo struts and roars over Murph’s pounding drums. On the almost pop-rock of “And Me,” Mascis lays down another blistering solo that could only possibly be from him. Kurt Vile plays countless licks all the way through “I Ran Away,” leaving Mascis to solo for the final third of the song.
As seems to be the case on recent Dinosaur Jr. albums, Lou Barlow takes the lead vocal duties on two songs. The closing, awkward, soft rock song “You Wonder” and the recently released, anthemic single “Garden.” A song about getting back to basics and focusing on what really matters. It’s easy to imagine if “Garden” was released in the mid-nineties, it would have been a massive alt hit.
There’s also a very unexpected and strangely pleasant surprise in the mellotron keyboard-driven bounce of “Take It Back.” Almost Dinosaur Jr. does reggae. Sweep It Into Space is a solid Dinosaur Jr. album. There are a few surprises, mostly pleasing, sadly it’s not as punk and raw as previous albums, but it still has their fantastic signature screeching sound.