Dinosaur review by Dinosaur Jr.

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  • Released: Jul 5, 1985
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.6 (10 votes)
Dinosaur Jr.: Dinosaur

Sound — 10
The debut album by Dinosaur Jr. shows up almost like a misfit in the 80's musical scene, with a very unusual mixing of genres for the time. The band's inspirations in this album vary from bluegrass music and all that "swamp rock" thing to the heavier stuff like heavy metal, punk and the 70's hard rock sounding, also going through folk rock (a few songs here just reeks of Neil Young sometimes). The production and mixing of this album is also very good for an independent band's first album, but it's still raw as hell, especially the guitar sounding. The only thing that makes me criticise the album on this aspect is: LOU'S BASS IS NOT LOUD ENOUGH! His basslines play a major role in sustaining Mascis' guitar melodies (something that is clear on later albums like "You'Re Living All Over Me" and "Bug"), and although the production does justice to them in some songs here like "Repulsion" and "Pointless", they're still pretty much "buried" in the mixing. Still, nothing that compromises the awesome songwriting here. Murph's drumming is also very solid, developing crazy fills all the time and also strong rhythms (for an example: "Cats In A Bowl"). And well, talking about J Mascis' playing is basically talking about the songwriting overall, since he's the main composer here. Like said before, he's very ample in his musical ideas and mixed everything he was digging musically at the time brilliantly. While I think this album is not exactly a parameter for Dinosaur Jr. (pretty much everything after "You're Living All Over Me" follows a different formula of songwriting), I think it's still an awesome record, and sometimes kinda underrated. Well, at least it seriously figures among my Dinosaur Jr. "top 3".

Lyrics — 8
Mascis' lyrics are pretty deep and metaphorical, and in this album, it approaches dissatisfaction with life, in songs like "Forget The Swan" ("Forget the swan, the dreams are gone/the pain goes on, they fly at dawn") and "Cats In A Bowl", but what kinda predominates here are love f--k-ups ("The Leper", "Gargoyle" and "Repulsion" being good examples), but all these things about love are approached in a very peculiar, metaphorical way, not really like the standard love song you find at every corner. For an example, "Mountain Man", which basically describes a man that went nuts after a bad relationship and went to live with the animals. Hilarious stuff, yeah. About Mascis' vocals, he usually sticks more to the melodic kind of singing, which he fits in greatly in his guitar melodies as well (he's usually compared to Neil Young on this aspect, and it's something I really agree with), which doesn't mean that he can't scream his guts off on songs like "Does It Float" and "Pointless" ("I'm staaaarving!").

Overall Impression — 9
Like I've said before, I don't really think this album is a parameter for the band overall, since the formula for their songwriting changed significantly on later albums (became more melodic, etc, but I mean that on the musical side, lyrically there were no major changes), but it's still a pretty cool record. I would say that "Forget The Swan" and "The Leper" are the best songs here, but I could really highlight the whole album, since it's just a matter of opinion anyway. I don't think there's even an average song here, each one are unique in their thing, everything helped by the aforementioned very unusual mixing of genres. I'd totally buy this again if it were stolen, or lost, or anything like that.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    So many thanks for discovering Dinosaur Jr. for me - I always wanted to listen to them, but didn't find the time. So, really great album - thank you again! I will listen to them more)
    I've only got into them recently, but they're one of my favourite bands already. Their music is excellent, and some songs are happiness in a pure state. You owe it to yourself to listen to them more.