DINOSAUR JR. || 'Sweep It Into Space'
More than 35 years after the release of their debut “Dinosaur,” J Mascis and fellow founding members Lou Barlow and Murph are still standing firmly, resolutely and confidently, making music that has withstood seismic tumult in the music industry, several personnel changes, bouts of personal turmoil, a prolonged breakup and then a reunion, now in its 15th year.
And then there was the tyranny of 2020, which suspended for months work on this album, which began in 2019. The delay caused no noticeable damages. Rather, all of the above seems to have put Dinosaur Jr. in good and familiar places, musically and personally.
“Sweep Into Space” is a collection of indie-pop tunes under loud, violent assault from riff-happy guitars and brash percussion. Amid it all, J Mascis renders his loping, world-weary voice, preaching and disclosing matters of hearthache, loss, isolation, contemplation – “I ain't good alone,” he bemoans in “I Ain't.” Or, from “To Be Waiting”: “Trying to get back, Trying to get free / I tried more for you / Are you there for me?”
It keeps the band in familiar company: the usual contemporaries like Hüsker Dü, Nirvana, Sugar, Pixies, Foo Fighters and other bands that know the secret to catchy songs isn't necessarily leaving the chainsaws and brass knuckles at home. Co-producer Kurt Vile coaxes the trio into warmer and less-familiar terrains, like on the acoustic-accented “And Me,” the 12-string, country-tinged “I Ran Away” and the piano-centric “Take It Back.”
Even with those alterations, “Sweep It Into Space” sounds like yet another in a long line of solid Dinosaur Jr. albums, which affirms a long-running sentiment about this band: Yes, all of their recordings share many similarities, but that consistency has bred reliability, which for decades has kept the band relevant and their loyal fans satisfied.