More than 30 years since their debut album, Dinosaur Jr. crank out number eleven, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not. Clocking in at a tight 46 minutes, Glimpse sounds like Dinosaur Jr. in the way that the Ramones sound like the Ramones or Motorhead sounds like Motorhead. You know a Dinosaur Jr. song when you hear it and there’s nothing in these 11 songs that’s going to change that. As a listener and fan, I think that’s perfectly fine. As long as the quality remains, the consistency is always appreciated. Dinosaur hasn’t fallen into that constant touring cycle that so many “reunion” bands seem to do. Rather, since the original line-up reunited with 2007s Beyond, each subsequent release (2009s Farm, 2012s I Bet on Sky) seems to be inspired by the songs themselves, rather than a half-assed excuse to tour a greatest hits set.
The songs on Glimpse have that peculiar Dinosaur Jr. quality that makes them sound wonderful and fresh and simultaneously take you back to 1993 when “Start Choppin” was a semi-radio hit (Heck, Lou Barlow thanks his Dad for letting him borrow his truck in the albums liner notes). The strong vocal melodies and white-hot guitar work that made 1988s Bug and 1991s Green Mind classics are in full effect here, with a touch of the melancholy found on 1993s Where You Been. The eleven songs on this album sound razor sharp, appropriately noisy, and ultimately a product from three guys who have finely honed their craft of songwriting into an original and recognizable blend of rock greatness.
On the first couple of listens, no single track jumped out at me. Perhaps I was distracted as I was cooking dinner or doing laundry, but other than a couple of cool guitar solos, nothing grabbed me. Then a couple of songs began to stand out, particularly the pop goodness of “Tiny,” the great guitar work on “Be a Part,” and the heavy, Melvins-ish riffage of “I Walk for Miles.” J’s vocals also seem to be exceptionally strong, like on the songs “I Told Everyone” and “Knocked Around.” “Lost All Day” and “Mirror” sound like the Dinosaur Jr. you know and love, catchy as hell and generally sad. Lou Barlow wrote and sings on two songs, “Love is…” and the album closer “Left/Right.” “Love is…” shows Barlow is a strong vocalist and lyricist in his own right, not just the low-end of the trio, while “Left/Right” is a muscular and harmonic power balled (for want of a better term).
There’s no reason you shouldn’t buy this album. It’s Dinosaur Jr. for crying out loud. They’re not gonna release a bunch of filler out of creative laziness. Nope, they’re going to do what they’ve always done and often do better than most. That is, produce an album of great rock songs that you’ll want to play loud, sing in the shower, and share with your friends. I didn’t instantly love every song on this album, but there’s 6-7 that I’m really into and can already tell it’s just a matter of time until I figure out the others.
– J. Kevin Lynch