One of the myths that has been completely exploded by the generation of indie rockers that came of age in the 1980s is that reunion albums suck. Time and time again bands from that era that broke up, flamed out or faded away have figured out how to get back together to cash in on whatever residual affection might still remain, but to make music as vital as their heyday.
Not all of these reunions are successful ::coughs:: Pixies ::coughs::, but the ones that are — for example Jason & The Scorchers or Superchunk — have produced records that stand proudly with their original recorded output.
But maybe nothing has been more successful than the reuniting of the original Dinosaur Jr. lineup, which famously split because Lou Barlow had some things to say as well. And boy did he ever, creating any number of classic albums (for me, Bakesale, Harmacy & The Sebadoh, for you possibly others) in the 1990s.
Still, when they reunited and put out Beyond in 2007 — almost 20 years after Lou left in the first place I don’t think anybody thought it was going to be as good as it was, but the key, of course, was that they just plugged in and played a bunch of great loud songs.
And so it goes: Beyond, and the follow-ups, 2009’s Farm and 2013’s I Bet on Sky could have come out in 1988 or 2028. So, given that what the records are going to sound like isn’t going to be surprise, what makes them is the insanely high quality of songwriting and playing: how all three musicians just fit together.
All three of their reunion albums are worthwhile, but I give a slight nudge to 2009’s Farm, which combines pure noisy pop like “Pieces,” big-ass ballads like “Ocean in the Way,” and one of the longest guitar solos Mascis has ever done, the 4+ minutes of absolute and utter shredding he does at the end of “I Don’t Wanna Go There.”
And that’s pretty much it: like Sideshow Bob and the rakes, the solo for “I Don’t Wanna Go There” starts off amazing, and just when you think it’s maybe getting too long, it decides to keep going and going and going until you realize that no matter how long it ends up going, it’s really not going to be long enough.
As far as I’m concerned, Dinosaur Jr. could get back together every few years, turn up the amps and crank out a dozen loud guitar-filled, croaked voice songs for the rest of our lives.
Fan-made video for “I Don’t Wanna Go There”