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More Light

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Album Review

Most of J. Mascis' '90s output was humdrum and samey, all whiney lyrics and metalhead guitar solos slopped over washed-out grunge riffs. By the time he dropped the Dinosaur Jr. moniker and released Martin + Me, it wasn't just because he sang with the same hound dog warble that people compared him to Neil Young; it was also because he seemed to have succumbed to half-assedness. That considered, More Light sounds pretty damned vital. The sameyness is still there, granted, but like Young, his spiritual godfather, Mascis has a way of making his ramshackle melodies downright endearing, and if you're a kindhearted soul, that'll allow you to forgive the half-assed stuff. The best tracks find Mascis sticking his head up out of the murk of guitar noise and lazy melody to deliver slices of snappy grunge pop: "Sameday" bounces between minor-key whine and major-key stomp as Mascis croaks his way through a stoner's lament, while the bouncy "Can't I Take This On" shows that there's a lighter side to the dude's brooding mewl. Even with production help from Kevin Shields, his guitar skronk is only ever-present background buzz, but noise is only half the point: too lazy to find a new bag of tricks, Mascis is squeezing every drop of dingy melody and begrudging sincerity out of growing old and just coasting along. If that's the best he can do, so be it.

More Light, J Mascis + The Fog
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