...These songs just about invoke a shoulder-shrug.
Al Fox 2007
It doesn‘t take a great intellect to recognise that bands reforming after a considerable time apart doesn‘t always work. Industry politics; adapting to the current musical climate; scepticism from both the public and the critics… there’s any number of hurdles. Take Dinosaur Jr for instance, who, let’s face it, are hardly All Saints. Yet, as the original line-up regroup for their 8th studio album, it would seem no band is immune from such obstacles.
Evidently picking up exactly where that particular line-up left off, Beyond has a distinctly non-21st century feel. Perhaps no bad thing - after all, there's a good 19 years to catch up on. But sadly, the alt-rock pigeonhole in which Dinosaur Jr once sat happily has evolved hugely. Music which was just the right side of edgy in the late 80s and early 90s is just the wrong side of indifference in 2007.
Had you heard "This Is All I Came To Do" or "We’re Not Alone" during the reign of grunge, you’d be suitably impressed. But with grunge having since given birth to an array of sub-genres far more relevant to today’s audience, these songs just about invoke a shoulder-shrug.
For long-term Dinosaur Jr fans, the return to the pre-89 original line-up will be an event in itself. If those fans were hoping the event aspect would spill over into the music, they'll be sorely disappointed. By no means is Beyond a poor quality record, it merely lacks the impact one might have expected, either as a result of the personnel-related hype or off the back of older material.
It's certainly not completely bereft of character. Beyond's saving graces come in the form of its soaring, epic instrumentals, and the engaging lazy drawl of J. Mascis. But stylistically it covers such well-tread ground that it's difficult to actively appreciate. A heavily-American, FM-friendly - yet refreshingly unpretentious - sound unfortunately makes for an overall unremarkable album.