J Mascis – Elastic Days (3 stars)

J Mascis – Elastic Days

Dinosaur Jr. frontman presents his breezy and lackadaisical fifth studio album

Since Dinosaur Jr's reformation in 2005, lead songwriter J Mascis has balanced his output between the influential 1980s punk band's noisy discography and his own typically more reserved sound. Elastic Days is the fifth studio album released under the J Mascis name and certainly adheres to the trend his previous solo outings have set.

Recorded at his own studio with Mascis playing nearly all the instruments, Elastic Days has the breezy and lackadaisical charm of someone who has found a groove and settled into it. All 12 tracks on the album clock in at under four minutes, and as a whole the record never demands too much from the listener. The majority of tracks are led by a gentle acoustic strum, with the occasional electric squall sidling gently alongside and only taking the spotlight in the final minute of a song.

The album plays out in a post-psych melancholy haze, although tracks like 'Cut Stranger' and 'Sometimes' rescue it from descending too far into depressed dad rock. The latter, in particular, injects life into the back half of the album with an unexpected tempo change. More of these stylistic moves would be welcomed to force listeners to sit up and pay attention in the way Mascis has done so many times in his other guise.

Despite this lack of edge, the moment Mascis' familiar voice starts on opening track 'See You at the Movies', he brings with him decades of experience, and the reassuring comfort that comes with that. Each track has just enough personality to stop them from becoming indistinguishable, although there is nothing on here to win Mascis any new fans – this album does not give the impression of a man trying to break new ground. Instead it sounds like a man happy to have a gentle conversation with himself and his faithful fans.

Out now on Sub Pop.

J Mascis

American singer-songwriter, guitarist and member of Dinosaur Jr.

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