Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky (PIAS)
September 17, 2012 by Edward Clibbens
On this, their tenth studio album, it’s fair to say that Dinosaur Jr. are back on form. The follow up to 2009’s occasionally brilliant but often sub-par Farm, I Bet On Sky brings together all of the elements from their career thus far. This being said, don’t expect anything ground breaking here, merely a fine-tuning of the formula. Either way, this record sits more comfortably alongside Where You Been? than their lesser recent outings.
‘Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know’ instantly brings to light a band back at the top of their game. J. Mascis’ ever distinctive and suitable average vocals combine with the slightly absurd guitar solo to make you feel right at home. ‘I Bet On Sky’ tends to showcase the band’s more mid-paced moments – the brilliant ‘What Was That’ perfectly treads the line between hard and soft, counteracting the melodic verses and chorus with glimpses of J. Mascis’ supreme guitar playing.
The album, as we’ve come to expect with Dinosaur Jr.’s offerings, drags with it a constant feeling of nostalgia. It’s fair to say that J. Mascis has never really left the late ‘80s. It’s an album that longs for an age when American guitar music ruled the roost, a time that the band gained its status as cult legends and that the guitar solo didn’t sound out of place even on alternative radio.
I Bet On Sky is both better and worse off for this. On one had you wish that they would branch out and release something that really blows you away. Equally though, you realise that would most definitely end badly. J. Mascis does shoddy vocals, melodic guitar lines and solos- and that’s how it should stay.
The closing two tracks, ‘Recognition’ and ‘See It On Your Side’ are the clear highlights of the album. What they do is bring together everything that’s good about Dinosaur Jr. The chugging riff of the former and the emotive melodies of the latter, with a couple of solos chucked in for good measure, provides the perfect end to an impressive album.
Although no one track can rival the incredible ‘Said The People’ from Farm, as a whole body of work, this is arguably the band’s best work in well over a decade and one of 2012’s best rock albums.