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CD of The Week

Week of 4/26/21

    Dinosaur Jr. - Sweep It Into Space (Jagjaguwar)

    Worried that life as we know it will never go back to the way things were pre-pandemic? Dinosaur Jr. is here to offer a counter-punch. Their new album, Sweep it Into Space, was recorded back in August of 2019 with co-producer (and Dinosaur Jr. friend/groupie) Kurt Vile. After mass uncertainty hit, singer/guitarist J Mascis took the near-complete recording sessions and finished the album quarantined, listening to Thin Lizzy for inspiration. The end result is a very familiar record, with Mascis’s patented raspy, quivering whine alongside tracks made up of fuzzy, slacker-crust, encasing an unpolished, melodic core. In other words, Sweep it Into Space is more of the same wonderful guitar wankery that has defined Dinosaur Jr. for nearly 40 years.

    In fact, new heavy tracks like “I Met The Stones” and “Walking to You” placed next to songs from their earlier albums Bug and Without a Sound would make a difficult spot-the-difference shell game. There are, however, a couple of exceptions. Single “I Ran Away” adds a little alt-country flair while taking advantage of Vile’s 12-string, crafting one of the catchiest choruses since Where You Been’s “Start Choppin’.” And “Take Me Back” has such a light production with a bouncy keyboard and crunchy percussion that the song sounds like a demo made for Spoon. Although it builds and eventually adds guitar, it is a refreshingly out-of-place interlude that never employs a buzzing onslaught.

    Sweep it Into Space establishes and continues new landmarks for Dinosaur Jr. Since reuniting in 2005, the current line-up of Lou Barlow on bass and Murph on drums (which was also the original lineup) is the longest-running period for the band, eclipsing their existence from birth through 1997’s breakup. And like all of their post-reunion albums, Barlow has once again contributed two songs to the album; the final track “You Wonder,” a light, linguistic affair, and “Garden,” which is a resolution to dramatic confusion. Barlow’s contributions show discerning differences from Mascis’, but at the same time, sound cohesively like Dinosaur Jr. - a conundrum comparable to Colin Moulding and Andy Partridge’s different-yet-unifying sounds which create XTC.

    So to recapture the freeing feelings of youthful naivety and nostalgia for a time where old problems may seem trivial, look no further. Sweep it Into Space blasts off en route to the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s simultaneously with a comfortable, never-changing recipe of song. In keeping with the pre-COVID mindset, Dinosaur Jr. has even booked new dates (not a rescheduling - the first “new tour” of the now times) to play this fall, stopping by the Union Transfer on November 18th. Go see ‘em, mask and sanitizer in hand.
    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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