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Dinosaur Jr – I Bet On Sky (Review)

Dinosaur Jr, I Bet On Sky

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THREE albums into their reformation and Dinosaur Jr continue to sound as fresh as ever.

I Bet on Sky, their tenth album in total, marks a coming together of all that has been learned by the trio over the years, yet its wisdom is such that it’s geared to appeal to young fans as much as old die-hards.

It’s steeped in classic values, from trademark croaky vocals to boisterous guitar work, yet it could just as easily be the sound of a band striving to appeal to a new slacker generation.

For those who have grown up over the years with Dinosaur Jr, however, there’s a warm comfort in hearing the various components coming together again so seamlessly.

Album opener Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know kicks things off in robust fashion, with powerhouse guitar riffs floating above an electronic bed and J Mascis’ vocals adding a softness that’s appealing and which neatly offsets the harder elements.

The formula is tweaked for Watch The Corners, an absolute highlight, which opens amid chugging guitar riffs and an almost grunge feel, before Mascis issues a rallying call to anyone who agrees that life is “never fair”. The chorus is high on melody, again offsetting the more edgy inclination of the verse structure.

And then the band strip things down to a near-perfect melody in Almost Fare, a coming-of-age moment that plays to any person who feels awkward in love and in two minds how to best approach a girl. It’s warm, vulnerable and the sound of the band at their most sensitive, yet toe-tappingly good as well.

If the album perhaps struggles to match the out and out quality of those first three songs, it still delivers at various other points as well.

Rude is a hard-rocking slice of pop that’s reminiscent of early REM, I Know It Oh So Well brings in the trademark distortion on the riffs, Pierce The Morning Rain rocks really damn hard and What Was That offers another welcome moment of calm, yet with no less striking riff-making.

Indeed, some of Mascis’ guitar-work is terrific and the band indulge him with several classy solos. By his own admission, it’s his most unhinged playing to date… as evidenced by the frequent change of pace on Recognition.

Come the epic finale See It On Your Side, and sky-scraping guitar work, you’ll be totally blown away by another great Dinosaur Jr musical adventure. It bets on the sky and wins big.

Download picks: Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know, Watch The Corners, Almost Fare, Rude, What Was That, See It On Your Side

Track listing:

  1. Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know
  2. Watch The Corners
  3. Almost Fare
  4. Stick A Toe In
  5. Rude
  6. I Know It Oh So Well
  7. Pierce The Morning Rain
  8. What Was That
  9. Recognition
  10. See It On Your Side