I Bet On Sky - PIAS
FILTER Grade: 83%
By Kurt Orzeck on September 18, 2012
Just when you thought guitar rock had gone the way of checkered flannel, Dinosaur Jr. come lumbering back with yet another slab of post-reunion material. This is their 10th studio record, the third since they reconciled in 2005. Lou Barlow is onboard, of course; trying to sell grumpy, old alterna-“teens” on a configuration of the band without him would be like trying to sell those same exact people on a Guided by Voices reunion without Tobin Sprout. (That said, raise your hand if you predicted in the ’90s that, come 2012, Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon would be broken up but J Mascis and Lou Barlow would be together. The brains reel.) Maybe in an effort to trick listeners into thinking that I Bet On Sky doesn’t sound like every other Dinosaur Jr. record—which it does—they placed their most unusual song at the front of the line. Yes, that is the keyboard you’re hearing on the first track, which bears the classic Mascis title “Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know.” But five minutes later, Mascis’ incomparable noodling will have you saying, “So what else is new?” Also comforting to Dino diehards will be the shoddy production value, which has the music sounding as if it were being projected through a dense layer of fog. It might be 2012 for most of us, but don’t tell Mascis. Naturally, Barlow coos through his requisite two ditties, “Rude” and “Recognition.” But while those songs border on throwaway territory, Mascis’ strongest guitar showmanship actually sneaks up at the end of the latter track. Beyond that, it’s Mascis plodding on, warbling apathetically and then suddenly breaking into his shimmering birdsong. What motivates the consummate slacker band to continue is beyond all of us. But is anyone complaining?