Dinosaur Jr.
Sweep It Into Space


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jack Mancuso CONTRIBUTOR (67 Reviews)
April 23rd, 2021 | 139 replies


Release Date: 04/23/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It's not perfect, but for a band almost 40 years into their career, "Sweep It Into Space" is more than capable of standing on its own within the Dinosaur Jr. oeuvre.

There’s nothing quite like the realization that spring has sprung. Gloomy and overcast days slowly give way to later and later sunsets until that brilliant equinox arrives, and the first 60-degree day of the year unloads a mammoth amount of dopamine into my nervous system. For me, no other artist embodies this changing of the seasons quite like Dinosaur Jr.; their catalog resides in a realm of blooming flowers and endless sunshine, a place where even the most tender expressions of sorrow have a hopeful halo around them. It’s no secret that the band’s apex occurred in the late ‘80s with their two master strokes, “You’re Living All Over Me” and “Bug”, but it’s becoming clearer with the passage of time that Dino’s reunion lineup is a worthy successor to their original iteration. Records like “Beyond” and “I Bet on Sky” hearken back to the glory days of the group’s SST releases, while the brilliant “Farm” found the threesome simultaneously discovering new territory through sprawling song structures and progressive influences. Their newest effort “Sweep It Into Space” is similar to “Farm” not necessarily in sound but in spirit, remaining devoutly true to the Dinosaur Jr. ethos while exuding a newer and more vibrant energy than their more recent releases.

If 2016’s somewhat disappointing “Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not” has any listeners feeling wary about giving the band’s new effort the old college try, the first 45 seconds of rip-roaring opener “I Ain’t” should allay their fears pretty much immediately. This shimmering intro is the perfect way for Dinosaur Jr. to reintroduce themselves to us in their fifth (!!!) decade as a band, featuring soaring verse leads and angelic backing vocals, as well as showcasing the obvious improvement in production quality over “Give a Glimpse” and even “I Bet On Sky”, thanks to indie extraordinaire Kurt Vile. J. Mascis’s vocal style is as unmistakable as ever, and despite his pessimistic observation that “I ain’t gettin’ along”, there’s a renewed engagement in his voice here; it can’t be described as anything close to fervor (because it’s J Mascis), but “Sweep It” demonstrates a man who appears far more inspired than he did the last time we heard from him.

Elsewhere, Lou Barlow and Murph remain in top form, with the improved production shining a well-deserved spotlight on Murph in particular, who turns in some of the most pulse-pounding drum tracks of his career on tracks like “I Expect It Always” and “Hide Another Round”. Barlow’s rare vocal performances are always a treat on any Dino record, but his songwriting has taken a considerable step up since the band’s 2005 reunion; tracks like “Back to Your Heart” or “Your Weather” have grown to become some of my favorite by the band over time. He’s in top form on “Sweep It” as well, as single “Garden” illustrated upon release. Album closer “You Wonder” is another wonderful vehicle for Barlow’s talents, but “Garden” is where he really shines on this release by ornamenting its lyric with nervous hope and his signature sardonic wit (“It takes time living on a razor blade to know the way”).

Rhythm is the heartbeat of any great musical act, but of course with Dinosaur Jr., the big ticket will always be J Mascis’s guitars. It’s tough to not have heightened expectations for his playing when “Teen Age Riot” is about him, but somehow he’s managed to deliver yet again, this time by becoming more unpredictable and blending influences from all stages of his career. When they first emerged from Amherst, Massachusetts, Dinosaur Jr. originally described themselves as “ear-bleeding country”, a term which Mascis has embraced wholeheartedly when it comes to his guitar work on “Sweep It”. The distortion-soaked guitar heroics of the band’s early days walk hand in hand with the gentle and emotionally evocative acoustic playing of Mascis’s solo work on several tracks here, most notably “And Me”, which features galloping acoustic strumming alongside walls of high-gain riffing, while closer “You Wonder” sees Murph and J wander into Lou Barlow’s acoustic coffee house jam. “I Ain’t” sees these two worlds merge in a different, but more meaningful way; before Mascis’s outro solo, he shreds an entirely different, yet remarkable solo behind his vocals in the final verse. This is easily more technically impressive than the outro solo that follows, but his decision to prioritize feeling and musicality over technicality pays dividends and makes that hopeful halo appear right out of the gate.

Not every track hits as hard as the opener would lead you to believe; “Take It Back” is an easy choice for the album’s lowlight, a plodding slower piece that features both a saloon piano and a lack of identity. Dinosaur Jr. are at their best when letting their jangly side and deafening volume coexist, which is what makes album highlights like “I Ain’t”, “And Me”, and lead single “I Ran Away” so compelling. However, this also makes power-chord jams like “I Met the Stones” seem beneath them in some way, almost as if it were written by a band trying their hardest to sound like them.

“Sweep It Into Space” is more than capable of standing on its own two feet within the Dinosaur Jr. oeuvre. Its eclectic guitar work, energized disposition, and fantastic production by Vile allow it to exist among the very best of the band’s reunion work and make it a welcome improvement over “Give a Glimpse”. It’s not perfect, but for a band almost 40 years into their career, it represents something that I didn’t think was in the cards for them; a new chapter.



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user ratings (95)
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2021


14888 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the Dino boys are still kickin, this is better than i thought it would be!

ArsMoriendi
April 23rd 2021


35621 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's out already?

Digging: Tom Waits - Blood Money

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2021


14888 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah dawg, where I’m at it is at least

SandwichBubble
April 23rd 2021


13165 Comments


In memorium: 4.5 site average for Dinosaur Jr.'s Sweep It Into Space
April 23rd, 2021 - April 23rd, 2021

Kompys2000
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2021


6578 Comments


Sweet review YoYo! Really nice to hear this is a bounce back from Give A Glimpse, that album was so blah

Will jam this sometime in the next day or two fo sho

Sharenge
April 23rd 2021


1921 Comments


You're Living All Over Me
Sweep It Into Space
sounds like they're onto something

Digging: Tropical Fuck Storm - Deep States

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2021


15763 Comments


Wait. These guys are old timers?

Digging: Obscura - A Valediction

AxeToFall93
April 23rd 2021


308 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's a Dinosaur Jr. record. There is almost nothing to go wrong here.



Stellar production by Kurt Vile and pretty solid review!

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2021


9592 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Recently finished their discog, will def jam this at some point.

Good rev man

Digging: Angele - Nonante-Cinq

Sharenge
April 23rd 2021


1921 Comments


"Kurt Vile"

ooo now I actually have to check this out

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2021


9592 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

yeah def increases my hype

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2021


9592 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Oh btw spotted this in the second to last para:

"Dinosaur Jr. are at their best when letting their jangly side and deafening volume coexist, which is..."

zakalwe
April 23rd 2021


35042 Comments


Album is essential

butt.
April 23rd 2021


9152 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

First time listening to these guys. Their top genre tag here is noise rock....is there a time in their career when they were actually noise rock?? Lol. This record is like country/alt rock

Ryus
April 23rd 2021


26420 Comments


check you're living all over me immediately!

Digging: Rx Papi and Gud - Foreign Exchange

zakalwe
April 23rd 2021


35042 Comments


Alt Rock.

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2021


9592 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

nah butt, check Bug immediately!

Kompys2000
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2021


6578 Comments


Yeah Bug is the best of their original "classic" trilogy and iirc the noisiest? Been a hot minute since I listened to any Dino Jr other than farm though so I could be off on that one

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2021


14888 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks for spotting that dedex

grannypantys
April 23rd 2021


2444 Comments


I've been skeptical about this band for the last few years but this album instantly won me over.

J used to wait for natural breaks in the song to begin his flourishes and epic solos. Now he's just squeezing them in all over the place.



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