When Dinosaur Jr returned from extinction in 2005 and hit the studio, fans and critics around the world waited with baited breath to hear what the powerhouse trio had in store. They were treated over the coming years to some fine albums – 2007’s Beyond and 2009’s Farm – and now, three years since their last release, J Mascis and co are back with the unusually titled I Bet On Sky.
All the points on the standard Dinosaur Jr checklist can be well and truly ticked off when listening to I Bet On Sky: J Mascis’ laidback drawl sounds as delightfully lazy as ever; sprawling guitar solos send shivers down the spine as they squeal in harmonious chaos; the battering-ram rhythm section is positively thunderous throughout. Tracks like chugging single Watch the Corners, the electric Pierce the Morning Rain and the rip-roaring country rock of Rude bristle with rampant ferocity. This is the sound of a band on a mission; the sound of a band who set out to make a real rock record.
Surprisingly, though, there are a few quieter moments on the album too. Opener Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know is a fairly clean affair, eschewing the trademark bucketloads of fuzz and distortion to make way for a piano riff. It’s a bold move to open the album with such a different track, but it ultimately works in the band’s favour, easing you into their hand-crafted world of heavy indie rock.
While dissenters will claim that all Dinosaur Jr albums sound alike, I Bet On Sky proves this is not the case. The trio have pushed the boundaries of their sound, while retaining what it is that makes them so special. This, their tenth studio outing, has its fair share of breathtaking musicianship and is most certainly worthy of a listen or two.
I Bet On Sky by Dinosaur Jr is out on the 17th of September via PIAS.