Dinosaur Jr., Beyond

Band reunions are always looked upon with some suspicion. From The Who to the Sex Pistols to this summer’s Genesis and Police reformations, the idea of bands getting back together usually seems more of a business decision than anything else. But that attitude may be changing. In recent years, post-punk legends Wire and Mission of Burma have reunited and not only avoided embarrassment but also delivered original albums just as good (and in most cases better) than any indie band around today. Well, you can add Dinosaur Jr. to that list. The unlikely return of J, Lou, and Murph is a welcome one and Beyond shows them picking up right where they left off. The album mixes the original line-up’s energy and grittiness with their 90’s post-Barlow era pop sensibility. In other words, something for everyone. Huge, crushing riffs drive “It’s Me”, while “I Got Lost” slows things down and employs J Mascis’ aching falsetto singing. “This Is All I Came To Do” would be a hit single in a perfect world. The production is lo-fi enough to please the hardcore fans but clean enough not to scare off the more casual listener. As always guitar solos abound but Mascis continues to prove that they can be an emotional ingredient in the songs as opposed to technical wankery. Lou Barlow’s success in Sebadoh and Folk Implosion might suggest that he would play a larger role in Dinosaur this time around; however, he is no more or less in the spotlight here than he was in their first three albums. The two songs he contributes though, are on par with any of the Mascis tracks and fit in more than comfortably. In a musical landscape that seems to champion mediocrity, emphasize style over substance and become more and more slick and polished, listening to this record makes me realize now, more than ever, we need Dinosaur Jr. (Matt White)

CD, Fat Possum, www.fatpossum.com

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