Album Review: Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet On Sky
By Jamie Wolfert
I Bet On Sky is the reformed Dinosaur's Jr.'s third album since reuniting in 2005, their sixth total with the original lineup of J. “Many Stacks” Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph, and their tenth full-length overall. You can break for a minute to wrap your head around that if you need to. It's quite a storied piece of rock 'n' roll history, from the tumultuous, Minor-Threat-meets-Neil-Young early days, complete with on-stage fisticuffs, to the lineup changes and the Mascis solo years, and now back to the beginning (sans on-stage violence), Dino Jr. has proven as resilient and consistent as rock bands come.
I Bet On Sky sees the original trio getting along famously, creatively thriving in their status as universally respected, and still relevant, alternative rock grandpappies. Perhaps because of this, there's actually not much to say about this record that would surprise anyone that's heard a Dinosaur Jr. album before. Great (and some merely very good) songs from J. and Lou, lots of huge tones and grandiose, meandering fuzz guitar solos, Murph hitting the drums really hard and in all the right places...what more do you want?
So as not to appear to be blowing off I Bet On Sky as “just another awesome Dinosaur Jr. record”, I will highlight a few of my favorite moments: The opener, “Don't Pretend You Didn't Know” may catch you off guard with it's "Walkin' On Sunshine" guitar riff, but don't be fooled, a trademark bittersweet melody brings it back home. The following song, “Watch The Corners”, throws another curveball, opening with a chugging metal gallop that quickly segues into a classic Dino Jr. Big Muff strum-a-long. I have to assume these are deliberate, subtle efforts to keep the listener from growing complacent, something this band has always been great at. Barlow tunes are tough to beat for memorable hooks, and “Rude” can't fail, providing a cowpunk-ish backdrop for Lou's master-level pop craftsmanship. Album closer “See It On Your Side” is the place to go if you just can't get enough Mascis guitar solos. J. does a great Eddie Hazel, and this jam is I Bet On Sky's “Maggot Brain”.
So you dig Dinosaur Jr. songs, right? Alright, then snatch up a copy of I Bet On Sky. It's filled with new Dinosaur Jr. songs. That is all.