Dinosaur Jr. (photo by Levi Walton, PR)
Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not
Alternative rockers Dinosaur Jr. prove that you can go back. Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not is the group’s new album and it comes over a decade since the reunion of the original three-man lineup of 1984-89: J. Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph.
It's been a tumultuous three decades too. The original lineup released its self-titled debut in 1985 (adding the designation Jr. in 1987). But following 1987's You’re Living All Over Me and 1988's Bug, the first chapter of Dinosaur Jr. ended in 1989 when Barlow was fired. (Barlow would then direct all of his attention to his other band, Sebadoh.) With a shifting lineup, Dinosaur Jr., continued to release albums, like 1991's Green Mind and 1993’s Where You Been. Murph exited the band in 1993, leaving Mascis as the only original member. But after the release of 1997's Hand It Over, Mascis shut the band down.
The unlikely reunion of the original trio came in 2005 when Mascis, Barlow and Murph resurrected Dinosaur Jr. to promote the reissues of their first three albums. The reunion stuck. The comeback album, the fourth from the original trio and the eighth overall, was 2007's Beyond, followed by Farm in 2009 and I Bet On Sky in 2012.
Their latest album, Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not, possesses all the feedback-kissed qualities one has come to expect from a band that is still standing after decades of disharmony, tension, dismissals and departures against the tide of music trends. What is notable about this eleventh studio album is how it stands perfectly in tune with their past work. Sure, there have been some adjustments and progressions that are the result of the passage of time, like personnel changes and artistic maturity, but Dinosaur Jr. has managed to maintain and improve their signature sound over three decades.
The grungy power trio shines through Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not. The album overflows with distorted, overmodulated power chords and blistering, frenetic guitar solos, courtesy of guitar hero Mascis. The pace and force of the music is relentless. But Mascis’ guitar playing doesn't sizzle and spark uncontrollably—it’s anchored by the thunderous pulse of Barlow’s bass and Murph’s seismic drumming.
Permeating this power pop fury is Mascis’ dry, almost emotionless vocals. It all comes together to create one melodic eruption and melody is critical to these songs. Power pop hooks are aplenty on Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not, especially on “Goin Down,” “Tiny” and “Lost All Day.” “Knocked Around" includes the lyric that inspired the album's title and at first, the track meanders slowly. But just when it seems to come to an end, the song explodes into a propulsive coda, thickened by one of Mascis’ many shredding solos.
“I Walk For Miles” has a riff like a Black Sabbath song while “Good To Know" has some classic rock solos. Barlow gets two opportunities to shine on his own songs: the melodious “Love Is…” and “Left/Right," the album's finale. It’s fascinating to hear how Mascis marries classic rock to an alternative rock attitude.
Having conquered a past dotted with inner turmoil, firings and departures, the fact that Dinosaur Jr. even exists today is a remarkable achievement. On Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not, Dinosaur Jr. proves that it has plenty of creative fuel left in their tank.