September 16, 2016

Dinosaur Jr - Bug (1988)

People are accurate in calling this a less incredible You're Living All Over Me, but let's be real here, just because this doesn't live up to the greatest rock album of all time doesn't make it mediocre by any means. Dinosaur tightens up their song structures and takes more control of the soundstage, but the music itself isn't any less jarring than that on the previous album. Bug leads off with Freak Scene, an alternative rock classic that is one of Dinosaur's best examples of blending noise with pop. It catapulted the group from underground rock heroes to a more widely acclaimed group. The song also probably aided Sonic Youth's full acceptance of poppier melodies and easier listening on Goo--just how they have admitted You're Living All Over Me pushed them to new levels on Daydream Nation. Bug is really deep behind its masterful leadoff however. J Mascis lays down some intense and stunning guitar tsunamis that put even My Bloody Valentine to shame... I'm speaking mainly of the last segment on No Bones, damn! (check out the Freak Scene B-side, Keep The Glove, if you need oceanic quantities of guitar heroin). Lou Barlow's bass rhythms are riveting, even You're Living All Over Me doesn't feature a sound like that. Another bonus is the lack of Lou songs except for the unsettling and exhilarating closer, Don't. There's a time and a place for most things and they finally found a spot for Lou to fit in. Like You're Living All Over Me, Bug is noisy and melancholy but also a very soothing album that you can use to explore feelings of social alienation. If you're caught off guard by the abrupt beginnings of some of these songs, just try to let them unfold because a lot of these tracks progress into gorgeous grassy fields of noise.