It’s been just over a decade since the original members of alt rock trio Dinosaur Jr. reunited in 2005 following a far too long hiatus in the late ’90s. Sure, there was plenty of good material released without bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph, but seeing the three rekindle their artistic partnership was a dream come true for fans. The resulting three albums have been some of the best material the group has ever recorded and Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not is no exception.
Give a Glimpse opens strong with a pair of standard Dinosaur Jr. jams, “Goin’ Down” and lead single “Tiny”. Of course “standard” for these guys is well above the average for any other band. Dinosaur Jr. lays on their trademark heavy sound and have the momentum and energy of a group half their age. “Tiny” in particular is a fun and upbeat track that will inspire you to grow out your hair, throw on your oldest band tee and loiter at your local 7-Eleven.
Mixed in with all this distortion is a surprising amount of tenderness. “Be Apart” and “Knocked Around” prove that the trio can turn down the decibels, if only for a little while. It’s in these softer moments that you can find the real emotional core of the band. As Mascis sings “Come on and be a part of me/Come on and if feel if it could be”, you can feel his sense of longing. The words themselves aren’t Shakespeare, but the delivery broadcasts the deep emotion behind them.
Of course, the quiet doesn’t last for long, especially with Mascis’ furious guitar work. As Dinosaur Jr. fans have known for years, he’s an absolutely brilliant guitarist with a gift for crafting solos. Almost every song on Give a Glimpse features a solo that hits hard and will surely inspire a few spontaneous bouts of air guitar. The best part is that they never get old. For Mascis, solos aren’t an opportunity to just shred; They act as an extension of his own voice. They serve the song as a more aggressive compliment to his easy-going vocal delivery, making them an important mode of expression.
While Mascis has largely been the face of Dinosaur Jr., Barlow and Murph are the arms and legs that make the trio move. The two are incredibly locked in with each other throughout the album and complete the group’s sound. Barlow even gets a couple singing/songwriting credits here with “Love Is…” and “Left/Right”. They’re both great tunes and the opportunity to hear from another voice in the band is refreshing.
If there’s a bad thing about Give a Glimpse Of What Yer Not, it’s that the album isn’t really charting new territory. The songwriting has enough variety to stay fresh over repeat listens but in the grand scheme of Dinosaur Jr.’s career it doesn’t feel like a step forward. That said, this is a band that does what it does very well. While they may not be leaping forward into some new phase of their careers, the trio has virtually perfected their sound and deliver well-written, easy to love songs with each new album. Maybe that’s the reason they got back together in the first place. Dinosaur Jr. came back to be Dinosaur Jr., and that’s more than enough for me.
Alternative Rock | Jagjaguwar