Farm, 180G Black Vinyl 2LP
Beyond, the first album to feature the original Dinosaur Jr. lineup since their 1980s heyday, was so surprisingly good it was tempting to call it a fluke. Tempting, but wrong-- two years after its release, it still sounds great, on par with the early, hallowed triumvirate of Dinosaur, You're Living All Over Me, and Bug. For any cynics still chalking Beyond up to luck, Farm should blast the scales from your jaded eyes. Energetic, confident, and catchy, it's even more compelling than Beyond.
It certainly boasts more stick-in-your-head tunes than Beyond, or virtually any other Dinosaur Jr. album. Who knows why J Mascis writes better songs when Lou Barlow and Murph are around-- maybe there's something to the old cliché of "chemistry," maybe the pair just know how to push his tunes from solid up to stellar. But whatever creates this spark, it's spurred Mascis to pack Farm with riff-heavy slacker classics that rival past gems like "Little Fury Things" and "Freak Scene". Opener "Pieces" is a vintage display of Dinosaur Jr.'s knack for grafting unruly riffage to unabashedly bittersweet choruses. The lumbering "I Want You to Know" follows with chunky chords that sound both heavy and bright. As David Raposa pointed out in his recent track review, the tune is impressively assured, as if Mascis has shed the need to add an apologetic tone to his guitar anthems.
But even when Mascis is lyrically mopey, the music pulls this sad sack up off the couch. Take the caffeinated chug of slacker-self-help guide "Over It". "Can I make it here?/ Get over it," Mascis tells himself. "I've been feeling weird/ Get over it... I've been on the fence/ Now it's making sense I see." Even better is the pity-filled "Plans". The man who Thurston Moore imagined as Slacker President in Sonic Youth's "Teen Age Riot" moans about pain, loss, and apathy-- "I've got nothing left to be/ Do you have some plans for me?" But the music's adrenalized bounce makes his misery more sweet than sad. In Farm's world, a good melody cures all ills. -Pitchfork "Best New Album" 2009