Dinosaur Jr.: I Bet On Sky
- By this point if you haven't made your mind up about, or are still oblivious to the existence of Massachusetts three piece Dinosaur Jr.: purveyors of both the incredibly distorted and melodic, alternative, guitar driven rock then I gotta wonder what you've been keeping you busy, and/or question the type of people you've surrounded yourself with up until this point in your life. After a career spawning/spanning nine albums, a ten year hiatus and a massive, mostly ongoing tiff between the group's two core songwriters, every record the group have put out in recent memory has been like an unexpected little treat. It's like my relationship with them is on borrowed time and at any moment the glue could come unstuck so I'm holding on as tight as I can for one last, loving glimpse into their collective, beautiful, sullen eyes. Milestone tenth record, I Bet On Sky, will only slightly shock you if you haven't been privy to the group's output since the aforementioned ten year hiatus, with the lads embracing, though not going overboard with the melodic as they mellow; any band that's been pumping out the jams for the best part of thirty years can't still be firey young men, if I've done the math correctly. Make no mistake though, Mascis will have to be ten feet deep in the ground before he turns the volume knob on his amps down, the music here is a world cleaner than what you'll find on Bug or You're Living All Over Me, but you know what, that's just fine - we're all mellowing together and it's hardly as if J has runed away from the hard and heavy wall of sound. Like most Dinosaur Jr. records, Mascis still holds the most presence here, the whispy-haired god writing and providing vocals for eight of the ten tracks, throwing ultra-charming and boyishly handsome bassist Lou Barlow his usual coupl'a'bones, a tradition kept up since Barlow's return from long absence. Lou's more upbeat and driving tracks tend to be the perfect juxtaposition to the constant guitar wailing and sultry, slightly disconnected croon that has become Mascis' bread and butter over the years. In fact it's just like both bread and butter: a classic food / condiment combo for good reason - you just wouldn't want to eat ten pieces without a break, making Barlow something like delicious provolone. While he's never had a huge vocal presence, his musical ability and affinity with other member of the rhythm section, Murph, a silent treasure in himself, help continue to lock Dinosaur Jr. into tight and steady grooves, allowing Mascis room for his gorgeous noodling. I Bet On Sky is not going to go down as a landmark record for Dinosaur Jr., but is still a highly enjoyable chunk of a band that have only ever put out good or damn good records. As long as the duct tape holds together, I'll be along for whatever ride Dinosaur Jr. will allow me to accompany them on. I just hope my duct tape holds together with half as much resilience as theirs. Opening track "Don't Pretend You Didn't Know" employs the unusual addition of keys to the Dinosaur Jr. recipe, a slightly weird, yet strangely compelling complement to their usual arsenal, and despite being the first, might be my favourite track from I Bet On Sky, a record that I've got this suspicion will only grow on me in time.
- Jay Edwards.