Review Summary: The music for all emotions and all times. If you're sad, listen to Bug. If you're happy, listen to Bug. If you suck, listen to Bug.
At night, before most people go to sleep, they ask themselves questions. What’s the meaning of life? How long will I live for? Will I be successful in my future endeavours? and so on, so forth. Yet before I go to sleep, I ask myself one simple question. Why is Dinosaur Jr. so good? For years I have pondered on this topic, and I have found no other response than ‘because they ***ing rule,’ and through my experiences, even Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t be able to find a flaw in this contention.
As the great music critic Cole Gutmeir once said (back in 1988 after the release of Bug) “Writing music like Dinosaur Jr. is the only way to write music. From this point on I don’t see why other bands even try anything else.” To this day his theory stands strong – Bug is still one of the greatest albums ever made, and the Dinosaur Jr. formula of Verse-Chorus-Verse-Solo-Solo-Solo-Solo-Solo-Chorus is still a staple in every musicians repertoire. But it is not only the influence of Bug that makes it an all-time classic – and if bands were judged off just influence, Bon Jovi would actually be respected by the wider music community. Thankfully, this is not the case, and it certainly doesn’t apply to Dinosaur Jr.’s 3rd release.
What J.Mascis and the boys created with Bug is an album that beholds an eloquent flow, and when paired with the incredible technicality, production, writing and chemistry Dinosaur Jr. display, it morphs into one of the most unique and incredible albums to ever be set loose into society. Every song off Bug features a lengthy, dwindling solo which has come to typify the playing style of Dinosaur Jr. All of these refrains are extremely melodious and portray the incredible amount of talent Mascis has in the palm of his hand (or more specifically, the tips of his fingers). The solos range from elegant and soaring on “Pond Song,” to an emotionally charged attack on “Don’t.” As well as Mascis’ incredibly ability with his guitar, his vocals are a notch above his contemporaries. Much like Dinosaur Jr.’s song writing, his singing varies from mellow to aggressive which gives the band a plethora of material and options to work with (in terms of song direction) – which they don’t hesitate to use. In short, Mascis has transcended the gap between man and god.
Throughout Bug, Dinosaur Jr. follow the same song structure during the majority of the album. Whereas this is generally where other rock bands fall down in attempting to create an irreplaceable record, this is actually the area where Dinosaur Jr. excel. The simple arrangement of each song suits as a stepping stone for them to bigger and better things – though the bare bones of each song is simple, there are layers upon layers of complexity and intricacy which transform Bug from a good alt rock album, to an all-time classic.
When asked to think of Bug, many thoughts instantly jump into mind. The incredible murky production and the extremely distorted guitars -which fuse to create an atmosphere atypical to even some of the best rock records- is one. The extremely energetic drumming (see “Yeah We Know”) is another. But perhaps the simplest, and most accurate way to describe this album comes in the form of one word: rules.