J Mascis and the gang are back after a four year gap since their last release, and with it, deliver one of the catchiest and easygoing alt-rock pieces in their discography.
Like most Dinosaur Jr. records, the band shows no hesitation with their sound in this attempt and delves straight into the exciting head banging action. With the first track Going Down, we’re reintroduced to the soft spoken rock voice of J, accompanied by punky riffs that always make for an interesting contrast in sound. One thing that I noticed in comparison to previous releases is that the mixing on this album is top notch. The vocals and instrumentals are both in a perfect balance and don’t try to overshadow one another. Another great technical pro is the arrangement on this compilation. The transition from the opening track to Tiny was an excellent choice and keeps the hype ball rolling through a Weezer-esque anthemic chorus.
Having said that, I do have my reservations about this album, specifically in its tendency to become slightly redundant due to its open ended lyrics. For example, in Lost All Day, the opening verse begins with, “Oh baby what went wrong with you and me?” and continues on with more ambiguous words and phrasing. In Mirror, J seemingly becomes self aware about his writing and repeats the phrase “Waste of time” throughout the chorus. Cheap jokes aside, these lyrics are not necessarily bad in the grand scheme of all song writing, but many are filled with rhetorical questions presented in the chorus or feelings of regret that could apply to numerous different situations. For me, I would like to see more direct situations referenced that actually resonate within myself.
It is worth mentioning that while I believe that the lyrics could have more effort placed into them, the real meat of Dinosaur Jr. is through their incredible singing guitar solos. One of my favorites on this release comes from the most metal sounding song, I Walk for Miles. Accompanied by echoey vocals and harsh bass rifts, the buildup to this intense solo helps to make the experience that much better, and truly makes up for the shortfalls listed previously.
Other great features reside in the diversity between each song. While every track follows a formula to a certain degree, (for example, every song contains a guitar solo) they still manage to stand out on their own. My favorite variation is when secondary vocalist Lou Barlow steps in for his traditional two track features and changes up the overall tone of the album for the better. In Love is…, the harmony and vocal delivery sounds like the love child band between Pearl Jam and Ween, which is an astounding thought in it of itself. J Mascis also throws in his falsetto voice at a couple points which really opens up a deeper emotional side of him that is not seen as often.
All in all, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not serves as a testament that Dinosaur Jr. are still capable of producing quality music. I hope they continue down this creative path, but preferably with a little more depth placed into their writing. My honest opinion of this album is a 7/10.