Boldly expanding signature style
The American rock band Dinosaur Jr., formed in 1984, are known for their profound influence on contemporary alternative rock. Since the band’s reformation in 2005, they have released five albums. In their newest, Sweep It Into Space, their distinctive melodic style is present as ever with the 1960s/1970s classic rock influence and significant distortion. This expansion of their discography maintains their signature style while still maintaining a contemporary sound.
“I Ain’t” laments on the pervasiveness of loneliness. As lead singer J Mascis belts, “there is no good from being alone.” Continuously, this chorus lingers as a way to remain within the listener. In its two bridges, the music gains even more momentum, as if resigning to the sadness the singer faces. The drums loudly meld with the distorted guitar work. Its dueling energy propels it. Even while still, there is a pulse that runs through it, and despite its sorrowful lyrics, the track has high energy.
Similarly, “To Be Waiting” has guitar work that significantly allows for one to be engaged with the work at hand. Asking “will you wait for me,” the lyrics have an undercurrent that should not be lost within its intricate instrumentals. In all of its complexities, lyricism expands the power of its instrumentals. They work in tandem with each other. The synchronicities expand the album into something to admire.
The leading single, “I Ran Away,” has a twang in its introduction that makes it stand out against the others. Boldly declaring that he ran away, Mascis describes being too overwhelmed to make commitments. The high notes punctuate the chorus. However, it is in the bridge that it gains its true footing. Wishing he knew where his lover went, he regrets leaving his problems. Then it descends into a distorted and forlorn guitar solo and ends with a sense of declaration in wanting to stay. The song in its entirety acts as a bookended narrative, showing a change in character in staying instead of running. It is simple yet highly effective.
However, it is the mid-tempo ballad “Garden” that is one of the highlights of Sweep It Into Space. It reminds one of the late 1990s/early 2000s rock. The beauty of the song relies on its elegance while describing wanting to retreat with a lover. The love ballad is truly timeless. When done well, there is a formative appreciation for it. Sincerely, the song acts as a reprieve. It fills one with love. Even simple words such as “sway” beautifully complement the more toned-down instrumentals.
Conversely, “Walking To You” is a loud, forceful track. While distortion is used throughout the album, it is highly present in the song. The drums have a very loud presence that competes for attention with other elements of the song. It is the closest the album gets to noise rock. Loudly, Dinosaur Jr. declares its distinctive sound does not sound repetitive. While one knows who they sound like, it is truly admirable that they are able to keep life and expand beyond who they are traditionally known for.
The ending track, “You Wonder,” closes the album with another mid-tempo ballad. The solos within it amplify its magnitude intensely. The classic rock sound truly comes out in the song, connecting listeners young and old. Even if the instrumentals are less loud than the previous song, it is a great song to end the album. While it pairs more greatly with the track “Garden,” the significance of the sonic changes between the first and final tracks are impossible to ignore. Sweep It Into Space is an album that progresses its sound, which makes it even more exciting to see what music Dinosaur Jr. will create in the future.