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Dinosaur Jr - Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not (Album Review)

Tuesday, 09 August 2016 Written by Ben Bland

Since reforming unexpectedly in 2005, the original Dinosaur Jr. trio have bucked trends. ‘Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not’, their fourth post-reunion album, confirms all the reasons why. Despite the fact that, on the face of it, they are peddling a sound that hasn’t been fashionable for a good 20-plus years, Dinosaur Jr. continue to win over new fans. More importantly, these four additions to the band’s catalogue rank among the finest in their history.

They are not the first group, of course, to return from inactivity in good form, but they are among a very small number to come back with such consistency. ‘Beyond’, ‘Farm’ and ‘I Bet on Sky’ would all stake claims as discography classics if it wasn’t for the mythology still attached to 1987’s ‘You’re Living All Over Me’ or 1988’s ‘Bug’.

‘Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not’ continues the run of excellence. Given the notoriously dysfunctional relationship between the three band members – something which, watching them on stage, one suspects is still not entirely fixed – it’s truly remarkable that Dinosaur Jr. are capable of continuing with what, on record, seems nothing less than consummate ease.

If any criticisms can be raised about the band’s recent material, they only centre on a lack of serious musical progression. ‘Farm’ hinted at new directions, and 2012’s ‘I Bet on Sky’ contained fresh subtleties, but ‘Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not’ is mostly Dinosaur Jr. by numbers.

It’s easy, and often necessary, to criticise artists for not pushing forward with their sound, but Dinosaur Jr. provide one of the few cases in which such criticism would sound petty and churlish. Despite all the lazy comparisons that have been made over the years, there still isn’t anything else out there quite like them. The combination still works a charm: J Mascis’ distinctive drawl, his kaleidoscopic guitar playing, Lou Barlow’s fervent bass and Murph’s understated work behind the drum kit.

One of the core strengths of Dinosaur Jr.’s post-reformation material has been its tacit acknowledgement that, ultimately, the band works best as a pop group, even if it is one drowned in fuzz and with nods to their hardcore past. Duly, and much like ‘I Bet on Sky’, ‘Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not’ is jam packed with fantastic tunes.

There are still heavy riffs on offer, but their sugar coating is what makes them stand out, not least on the addictive opening pair of Goin Down and Tiny. Of course, the band is also far more comfortable in ballad-like territory now than in the early days. It’s little surprise, then, that Mascis’ efforts in this department here – especially the wonderful Be a Part – are real highlights. But so too is Barlow’s gorgeous ‘70s-styled effort Love is…, a track quite unlike anything he’s offered to Dinosaur Jr. before.

We could cycle through other standouts but, as with all of Dinosaur Jr.’s recent albums, to do so would be unnecessary. There are no missteps here. The group’s rejuvenation over the last decade has seemingly put them in a position where they simply aren’t capable of putting out anything sub-par. Still steamrolling over the opposition after all these years, Dinosaur Jr. remain utterly essential and leaders in the weird little corner of alternative rock that is their home.

Dinosaur Jr Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Wed October 19 2016 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall Manchester
Mon November 14 2016 - BRISTOL Motion
Tue November 15 2016 - DUBLIN Vicar Street
Thu November 17 2016 - GLASGOW O2 ABC
Fri November 18 2016 - LONDON O2 Forum
Sat November 19 2016 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall

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