In 2012, when Dinosaur Jr. drummer Murph was asked how the trio would sound circa 2016, he said “really slow.” While that prophecy has not been completely fulfilled (the band had already embarked on such a pace with the sunny, but soporific, I Bet On Sky), Give A Glimpse… continues to smoothen the band’s brunt, without sacrificing the squalling solos of ringleader J Mascis.
At the very least, since the Amherst trio realigned in 2005 each reunion album has been good for at least one entry into the group’s all-time classics canon (‘We’re Not Alone’ and ‘Watch the Corners’ being two prime examples), and there’s an instant contender here on their eleventh record. ‘Goin Down’ is a blistering rocker, replete with a beefed-up, melancholic guitar riff straight from Where You Been and Mascis’ yearning drawl. Likewise, the urgent thrash of lead single ‘Tiny’ and the downbeat drive of ‘I Told Everyone’ demonstrate the group’s knack for heavy harmonies.
The recent seven-minute compendium of all of Mascis’ dextrous fretwork smacked of playing to the gallery, as Give A Glimpse… offers enough textures to embellish, rather than aggravate, Mascis’ typically tumultuous noodling. ‘I Walk for Miles’ recalls the hardcore jamming of Farm, while ‘Knocked Around’ unilaterally shifts from a strong Mascis falsetto into a barnstorming, crackling crescendo.
The trio continue to dispel the theory that dinosaurs were victims of evolution, for ever since Beyond the band have taken walls of distortion and turned them into comforting blankets. What was once abrasive is now assuring, perfectly personified in the amalgamation of arpeggios that propel ‘Lost All Day’, Mascis’ yearning howl lamenting: “oh baby what went wrong / with you and me?”, while ‘Be A Part’ matches urgent lyrics with bursts of melody.
While it’s perennially hard to shift focus away from Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow once again offers two compelling numbers that allow for a shift in creativity and tone. ‘Love Is…’ may be his usual subject fodder – the intricate dynamics of relationships – but it’s decorated in haunting ‘70s reverb, while the idiosyncratic chug of ‘Left/Right’ dissolves into a gorgeous, echo-laden coda.
Dino’s original 1980s output was fuelled by tension and restlessness. Little did we realise that now, twenty years later, contentment and comfort would yield just as good a result.
The album comes out on 5th August via Jagjaguwar.
Words by Sam Lambeth