Bug, Dinosaur, and You're Living All Over Me (Merge)
Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., May 27, 2005
You're Living All Over Me (Merge)
As influential as they were among the sonic misfits of the Nineties, Dinosaur Jr.'s career only spanned the latter five years of the "Me" decade with the original lineup of J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph; most of those years were spent in a holding pattern of self-loathing and inner-band strife. Yes, before "slacker" made it into our vocabulary, the Amherst trio was the embodiment of detached, apathetic fuzz rock. Dinosaur (1985) uprooted hardcore's roots and planted them halfway between thrash and country. It was loud, hair-band tension, and J Mascis' vocals were bored and angry at once. "Cats in a Bowl" rambles like the Minutemen; the reckless abandon of "Does It Float" is punctured by Mascis' fraught vocals. Mascis' Birthday Party obsession shines through on "Pointless." Yet, for an act born out of the East Coast hardcore scene, it was a pop band with a sense of humor (check Mascis wearing a knitted sweater in the CD booklet). Whereas Dinosaur was a touch of sick, 1987's You're Living All Over Me delivered a punk rock exorcism. Opener "Little Fury Things" and "Sludgefest" were gnarly, bottom-feeding opuses of throb and ennui, Mascis' punk drawl and Southern rock solos meshing perfectly with Barlow and Murph's rhythm section shit-kicking. The bonus video for "Little Fury Things" reels in the 2am 120 Minutes nostalgia. Mascis' voice still pleaded like a high school kid about to get his ass kicked. This was the euphoric sound of restlessness, building under the surface and coming to a head on the following year's Bug. The band's sound was tighter, songs like "Freak Scene" and "No Bones" equaling an indie royal flush. And, if Barlow's vocals on "Don't" were any indication ("Why don't you like me," he screamed over and over), the band was done. Dinosaur Jr. spawned a whole new generation of faux loser rip-offs, but no one captured the embarrassment of living like they did.
(You're Living All Over Me)