Review Summary: Farm is the album everybody expected Dinosaur Jr. to make. If anything, that just means it's good. Excellent, even.
Back when Beyond was released in 2007 it had been twenty-three years since Dinosaur Jr. had first formed. The album wasn't quite as good as some of their earlier recordings of course, but the remarkable thing about it was that it had the same youthful vibe that made You're Living All Over Me
so entertaining to listen to in the first place. Hell, the fact that it was good is even noteworthy; how many reunion albums are actually worth listening to? As if that number isn't small enough, there are even fewer worthy follow up records to said reunion albums. Unsurprisingly, Farm
is one of those albums.
The youthful sounding buzz that has carried Dinosaur Jr. thus far is out in full force once again. In a way, Farm
is exactly the kind of album we should have expected from J Mascis and co, but that isn't to say that the record is predictable. Farm's penultimate track, "I Don't Wanna Go There" is anything but; a monster of a song, the eight and a half minute "I Don't Wanna Go There" is four minutes of mid-paced Dinosaur Jr. at their best, and a four minute instrumental lead by Mascis' strongest solo on Farm
. It probably could have been shortened by a couple minutes and still capture the same themes, but even as Mascis noodles away, the song maintains a lightheartedness that prevents it from sounding too overindulgent.
In terms of unpredictability, "I Don't Wanna Go There" is alone, as far as Farm
is concerned. The majority of Dinosaur Jr.'s ninth record is rather conventional for alternative rock; it's a lazy, noisy, hour long jaunt complete with mumbled vocals, a slightly fuzzy production, and infectious enthusiasm. "Pieces" sets the tone early with huge, anthemic riffs, and an eager pace. The song is primarily rhythm based and is amongst the more complete tracks on Farm
, particularly when compared to a song like "Friends" which is based around Mascis' bluesy lead guitar tracks.
Similarly to Beyond
, bassist Lou Barlow has two writing credits on Farm
- "Your Weather" and "Imagination Blind" – and frankly both tracks are among Farm's best. "Your Weather" is full of melodic hooks, and sees Mascis abandoning the noisy riffage of "Pieces" or "I Want You to Know" in favour of jangling guitars, while Barlow and drummer Murph both play a more noticeable role in the track. "Imagine Blind" is rather bass heavy and ends up being the only track where Mascis' musicianship does not end up being the central focus. This contrasts nicely with the melodic rock of "Your Weather", as the song features a more laidback, stripped down Dinosaur Jr. that closes Farm
on a highly memorable note.
, Dinosaur Jr. isn't exactly reinventing the wheel, but the album effectively demonstrates why the band is such a big deal in alternative rock. Simply put, Farm is built on catchy hooks, plenty of fuzz, and excellent song writing. In spite of Dinosaur Jr.'s reputation for writing 'slacker anthems', there is a healthy vigour powering tracks like "Over It" or "Pieces", and the second half of "I Don't Wanna Know" is completely nuts. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and that may be true in Dinosaur Jr.'s case. But that doesn't mean they can't improve, and it certainly doesn't mean that they can't be versatile. Even though Farm
may be the album we (should have) expected from Dinosaur Jr., it is still an excellent record that offers a variety of different qualities, while remaining as much fun to listen to as they have ever been.