“Pearl Jam has sold an estimated 60 million albums. Dinosaur Jr has not. Now I like Pearl Jam as much as the next guy but what more evidence do you need that the universe is completely fucked? Fin.”
Cameron (First time TrackMarks reviewer)
Our first review from Cameron makes a good point: Dinosaur Jr formed in 1984 and their distinct sound, characterised by J Mascis’ ? vocals and distorted guitar, played a fundamental role in the formation of the grunge genre which spawned the success stories of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Despite their presence at the beginning of the grunge phenomenon and frequently positive critical reviews, Dinosaur Jr’s place in musical history is woefully understated.
The group’s new album, ‘I Bet On Sky’, adds to their musical legacy and will hopefully see them gain increased awareness and support from those who’ve forgotten them and those who’ve not yet been fortunate enough to hear about them. Since 2007’s Beyond, Dinosaur Jr’s first album since their unexpected reunion, the group have had a consistently successful approach to making quality albums. ‘I Bet On Sky’ is the group’s clearest album to date, striking a balance between the group’s traditional fuzzed out sound and the clarity of song-driven albums. The closest parallel from their past would be their 1994 album, ‘Without A Sound’ – not a bad thing for them given this is their most commercially successful album to date. I Bet On Sky also seems to showcase some of J Mascis’ best lyrical work to date (though this is helped by how much easier his lyrics are to decipher on this album.) Crafting engrossing narratives through his unique turns of phrase, it’s difficult not to focus on what he has to say.
This all comes together on a couple of key tracks which in the hands of other bands (Pearl Jam etc) would be destined for the top of the charts. ‘Pierce The Morning Rain’ and ‘Watch The Corners’ show the same song craft, lyrical universality and catchiness that drove so many of Dinosaur Jr’s grunge peers to the top of the charts while they were busy imploding and also a hint of what continues to see Dave Grohl and his many incarnations packing out stadiums around the world. Hopefully this time around we’ll get to see them stick together for long enough to show us everything they’re capable of, because we can’t shake the feeling there’s still more to come.