Review Summary: Year's '94 and my trunk is raw/in my rearview mirror is the mother*^&*% law
It would seem that 1994 wasn’t good year for people named J(ay). Working on album number six in the Dino catalog Mascis was now alone in the band after having fired the last original member. The repercussion of which meant that J had to perform almost all the different instrumentation in the studio by himself. There were also rumors that he was addicted to soap operas which either speaks to the eccentricities of J or equally likely a depressive state of mind. Finally, and most importantly, it was during this time that Mascis lost his dad which he later conceded had a significant impact on the records creation.
Anyone who has ever seen J hold a conversation would be forgiven for thinking he has savant like tendencies. Normally extremely subdued as if over medicated the only time J lets loose is with a guitar in hand. That’s what makes this record so frustrating. It is the one time in his career when his playing isn’t full of wild impulses and dramatic sweeps but instead comes off as subdued meandering that lacks the usual spark of creativity or “gnarl” as the original members call it. J doesn’t figure out until the next album how to properly express musically the solitude that comes with pushing people away.
There is still a lot to like in this album. Tracks like Grab It and Feel the Pain show J still able to rock and they would fit nicely onto any of his other albums. The creativity evident on Mind Glow to change things up with an acoustic guitar for the solos is an instantly gratifying experiment. I would nominate Get Out of This for the best song award with its incredible building climax of the last few minutes. The album ends with Over Your Shoulder which is reputedly a tribute to the father departed and is really a touching way to end a record.
For those that experience colored vision brought on by music this album is really disappointing. Instead of the vibrant 2001 Space Odyssey warp scene Dino usually unleashes this album manifests frequently as just muted browns like you're stuck in the pants section in one of those 'vintage' lost in time stores. You can’t blame a man for creating music based on his current state of mind in fact regardless of the results that is preferable to making an album purely for commercial purposes. Even so, thanks to highly promoted singles this surprisingly ended up being the highest charting album Dinosaur jr. ever released to that point.
It can be argued the difference between good and bad music has more to do with the emotional connection with the listener and less important is the skill of the musicians or style they play. Meaning your favorite music is simply what fits your frame of mind the most often. In that context I would never say this is a bad album but its the jr. record that rarely gets a turn on the record player.