I — probably like most interested parties — didn’t have high expectations for Dinosaur Jr.’s 2007 disc, Beyond, the first since the late ’80s to feature the original Dino trio of vocalist/guitarist J Mascis, bassist/vocalist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph.
Sure, I was excited about the band getting back together, and seeing them at Lollapalooza was fun, but few of these indie- and punk-rock reunions ever produce much in the way of exciting new music. Toss in the legendary bad blood between Mascis and Barlow and you had to figure Beyond was a one-and-done cash-in between the musicians’ other projects.
I’m glad I was wrong. Beyond turned out to be that rarity: a late-career album that fully captures why people loved a band in the first place, but that also displays a natural growth and maturity. The Weirdness it wasn’t.
But finding that spark again doesn’t necessarily guarantee a durable second act.
Mission of Burma’s second post-reunion disc, The Obliterati, despite my early high assessment, didn’t quite end up with the legs of the band’s first get-back-together album, OnOffOn. And I wonder if the same fate might befall Farm, Dinosaur Jr.’s good-not-great Beyond follow-up.
All the expected elements are here — the high-grunge fuzz, Mascis’ epic shredding, Barlow’s couple of contributions — and the band sounds good: These guys will never learn not to play well. But it all seems a bit perfunctory this time out, a bit lacking in freshness. I get why Dinosaur Jr. is still making music together, and Farm slots in just fine with its previous discography, but I don’t know why, in three months, I will reach for this one instead of You’re Living All Over Me or Bug or, well, Beyond.