mon 22/04/2024

Album: J Mascis - What Do We Do Now | reviews, news & interviews

Album: J Mascis - What Do We Do Now

Album: J Mascis - What Do We Do Now

Tapping into the endless elemental flow of an alt-rock mainstay

'Any given song here is up with his best'

It seems like time flows differently for J Mascis. He’s now not far off 60, it’s 40 years since he founded Dinosaur Jr, and he’s been involved in untold musical project from the most rarefied of abstract psychedelia to guesting with Lemonheads and Nirvana, but within his own core output he is tapped into exactly the same wellspring as he was all those years ago.

And I mean exactly. His solo material might be mellower than Dinosaur Jr on the whole, but nonetheless, play any of these songs next to more low key early Dinosaur classics like 1985’s “Repulsion” or 1987’s “The Lung” to an unfamiliar listener and they’d be hard pressed to pick the old from the new.

Everything is present and correct: large helpings of Neil Young, a little bit of early English postpunk edge, some sublimated Black Sabbath sludge, and Mascis’s perpetually-cracking voice and lava-flow classic rock guitar soloing. Even the titles – “Hangin’ Out”, “You Don’t Understand Me”, “I Can’t Find You” – are archetypal Mascis phrase-making. Not that this is a bad thing. Quite the opposite, in fact. There’s something profoundly reassuring about the fact that a musician of this level of talent can do one thing well for so long and not run dry of inspiration.

The thing is, there’s something even more archetypal and basic underneath those influences: an absolute love of the construction of simple phrases into emotionally rich whole. Mascis is, ultimately, a brilliant pop writer, with every lick, every phrase, even drum fills and short acoustic strums, mindful and considered as a hook, not just a functional bit of support. The joy of his songs, just as much as his ability to articulate simple everyday feelings of disaffection, longing, friendship, homesickness and so on, is the deep one of hearing the greatest musicians underplaying. And that will never get old. Sometimes you might find yourself wishing for some of the more extreme dynamics of a Dinosaur Jr album, but that’s a pretty minor quibble: any given song here is up with his best.

@joemuggs

Listen to "Can't Believe We're Here":

There’s something profoundly reassuring about the fact that a musician of this level of talent can do one thing well for so long and not run dry of inspiration.

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