Yeah, he of Dinosaur Jr just sneaked out another solo album. with no fanfare no bells or whistles it just came out at the tail end of 2018 but some artists just do that and when you eventually catch up with them you know it’s going to be good because they don’t really do bad records and J. Mascis is one of those artists. Unassuming, quiet and notorious for being a man of very few words and that’s from his peers but his talking is most certainly done through the medium of music and ‘Elastic Days’ is another melancholy masterclass bu perhaps not as bleak as you might expect in fact I found it to be a really happy record its not the banana splits or Julie Andrews skipping through fields but quite warm and heartening and full of great melodies and song appropriate guitar breaks and not big dollops of distorted strat thrown in to melt your face as you listen.
sure he has his other outlet for the college rock power tunes so he can release his gentler side through the records carrying just his name and this the third in that list might just be the best carrying just his name. This record begins with the warm and engaging ‘See You At The Movies’ which isn’t quite the insular cold one man and his acoustic you might have expected. Its more like Jnr without Murph and Lou but its happy go lucky and to be fair a great understated opener. ‘Web So Dense’ is more of the bruised heart loner type song you might expect with a great arrangement and the moment two thirds in where he raises from a whisper to the top of his range is wonderful and then to follow it up with one of his trademark solos will hit the spot for a legion of old-school fans playing catch up.
‘I Went Dust’ sees a duet with Zoe Randell that stripped back and warming there is an awkwardness to Mascis songs like a stranger is opening up to their innermost personal feelings and you don’t quite know how to react but ultimately it sounds fucking awesome so you keep listening anyway. and those outrageously loud guitar breaks always break through any awkward moment and make you smile sort of like the sun rising on a freezing cold morning – everything is gonna be alright. It’s not as bleak or limited as previous solo recordings there is a campfire warmth happening here and its possibly the perfect bridge between what he’s done before and what he does in Dinosaur Jr which for me is a great place to be and whilst he’s not hit the dizzy heights of ‘Bug’, ‘Start Choppin’ or ‘Green Mind’ this is right on track to being mentioned alongside such classic pieces of work at Mascis’ hands.
Spread out over twelve tracks there is a swing in variety and feel to these songs and whilst they are all undeniably the work of one man they flow really well and I’m happy that I’ve got my fix on ‘Elastic Days’ that is a most excellent record. I look forward to the next Dinosaur Jr album now when these kinda songs get turned up and fed through louder amps and wear a different pair of comfy shoes. His most accessible work to date if you’re a fan already you’ll love it and if your dipping your toes in then this won’t disappoint.
Author: Dom Daley