Sweep It Into Space
After several decades in the game (lets gloss over the 8 year hiatus in the mid-90s to the mid ’00s shall we?) Dinosaur Jr. are a band who’ve earned the right to do exactly what they want. On their fifth album since their re-emergence in 2005 and their 12 th record overall, ‘Sweep It Into Space’ captures the veteran trio embracing the true aspect of creative freedom. Production on the group’s latest release was slightly halted by Covid-19 with it originally slated for a mid-2020 release, only to be pushed back to April’21.
Due to lockdowns and all that comes with Coronavirus restrictions, guest slots were at a premium, meaning the contributions from Kurt Vile were stripped right back, with the musician lending some 12-string to the looser, country-flecked wiggle of ‘I Ran Away’ and that’s about your lot. The Vile-indebted track is something of an anomaly, with the majority of ‘Sweep It Into Space’ taking on the mantel of a classic rock-cum-shoegaze-cum-grunge record; notably J Mascis (guitars/vocals/main songwriter) has openly admitted he was listening to a lot of Thin Lizzy during the creation of the LP – which explains the soaring solos and rockin’ beats.
‘Sweep It Into Space’ in the main is an album that’s got plenty of oomph behind it, whether it’s Mascis’ driving riffs or histrionic fretwork, or drummer Murph’s primitive tub-thumping that, according to the press release is ‘Flintsonian’, which is a brilliant way of summing up the stickman’s rollicking beats, they really are the bedrock (geddit?) of the album. Sonically, the trio straddle the lines between stadium rock and the kind of group that would frequent a dive bar. Vocally, amongst the rough ‘n’ ready aesthetic Mascis and Lou Barlow (bass/vocals) cut forlorn characters with drawled, croaked deliveries that conjure up notions of vulnerability, sorrow and regret. It’s an intriguing juxtaposition that ‘Sweep It Into Space’ pulls off with aplomb. Yeah, some tracks sound similar to one another but will Dinosaur Jr. be pulling in new fans with this album, probably not? On the
flipside, they probably don’t give a shit about that either.
‘I Ain’t’ opens the record, with steady drum licks and a fuzzy classic rock strut that’s snaked by an omnipresent guitar solo. Despite the peppy DNA of the curtain-raiser, Mascis repeatedly murmurs “I ain’t good alone” with a loneliness in his voice. ‘I Met The Stones’ follows a similar vein, with Dinosaur Jr.’s frontman expressing some frustration over coarser, chugging rock ‘n’ roll “I gave it everything I got/I tried to stop you/I could not.” The Barlow fronted ‘Garden’ is a brief deviation from the grubby grunge rock found elsewhere. In a more stripped back affair, the bassist coos “takes times/it takes time living on a razorblade” as if to acknowledge the trepidation of making the slightest wrong move while walking life’s obstacle strewn path. ‘And Me’ merges some of the acoustic guitar found on ‘Sweep It Into Space’, with the electric set-up of the album, for a concoction that bounces along with a jaunty gait. It’s a song that pendulum swings with emotion, kicking off with Mascis announcing “back on track/but upside down”, while later declaring “I can’t take myself/can I get some help”. ‘Take It Back’ plonks you straight into a rundown bar, with some light honky-tonk piano combining with gauzy guitar; again the lyrics Mascis drawls are loaded with juxtaposition “I slipped but discovered you” and “inside you’re troubled”.
It’s an album of musical and lyrical dichotomies that live together in sweet harmony. On ‘Sweep It Into Space’ Dinosaur Jr. have aimed for the stars and landed firmly on the Milky Way.
Order Sweep It Into Space by Dinosaur Jr. via Jagjaguwar HERE