Music Reviews

Dinosaur Jr. Farm

(Jagjaguwar) Rating - 8/10

“Unambitious” is not a word that’s typically associated with great music. In fact, living in an era with a media culture obsessed with the most embryonic of the new, the most exciting thing-you’ve-never-heard, just its mention could flat-line a new band. Dinosaur Jr. are not, however, a new band and in their hands unambition is a badge of honour, a waved flag of defiance. This is defiantly slacker music for defiant slackers, and what better way to rebel in 2009 than to authentically not try, to not make music for anyone but yourselves? This is music that doesn’t move for any one.

No one expected it to be this way. There were no indications that new Dinosaur Jr. material should be good except, perhaps, the anomaly of two fantastic Mission of Burma records that appeared like surprise guerrilla attacks in a (now ever-growing) sea of reunions. But Dinosaur Jr. didn’t call it quits at the top of their game. Sure, they were still making good music right up to the end, but two out of three of the original members had left, one notably (and infamously) earlier than the other, and the band had as a result effectively become a J. Mascis solo effort. It was then unsurprising that the moniker “Dinosaur Jr.” became unnecessary and Mascis continued under his solo project proper, J. Mascis and the Fog. Given these conditions, the promise and 2005 confirmation of a reunion between the original members could have been dismissed as, and have amounted to, nothing more than an item of quaint excitement for nostalgic slackers. The announcement of an album, Beyond, could have aroused as much veiled contempt as good feeling; is nothing sacred, after all?

For any one who heard Beyond, these thoughts vanished after the first listen. It is, and still is, almost as good as anything in the entire Dinosaur Jr. catalogue. I say almost, because I can imagine that, for some, nothing will surpass the mythic quality of what many consider to be the band’s greatest achievement, You’re Living All Over Me. But for those of us less attached to nostalgia, or simply not old enough to remember, Beyond was everything it needed to be, a simply fantastic record, and, dare I say it again, totally unambitious. It was simply an effecting, loud, wonderful piece of music that didn’t try to be anything other than what it was. It was eventfully uneventful. Which brings me, finally, to Farm.

What to say about this, the second of the post-reunion records? Well, as you’ve no doubt read somewhere over the vast reaches of cyberspace, Beyond was no fluke. Farm carries on very much in the tradition of its predecessor. There are fantastic singles, this time I Want You To Know, and, Over ItPieces is every bit as good an opener as Almost Ready, if lacking the “omfg, this is awesome!!” surprise quality (I expected it this time). Plans and Said The People have that awesome slacker ballad feel Dinosaur Jr. do so well. Weather has a great, memorably sludgey riff, although the closing Imagination Blind has similarly brilliant qualities. The production is crunchy and loud, just the way it needs to be.

So, has anything changed? It’s roughly ten minutes longer, and a few of the tracks are lengthier, but... nothing else of note that I can hear? Is this a bad thing? Not at all. Farm succeeds just where Beyond did, by being an absolutely awesome record. If there’s one thing that can be taken away from it, it’s that we can all relax now and let Dinosaur Jr. do their thing. We can zone out to the unambitious sound of greatness and, hell, it sounds pretty good from where I’m sitting. ...Also, that album cover is genius.