Dinosaur Jr.

I Bet on Sky

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Now that Dinosaur Jr. is an actual working band and not a one-off reunion, they can settle into the business of being a band: touring regularly and cutting records where they subtly push at the boundaries of what defines the band's sound, as they do on 2012's I Bet On Sky. By some measures, the quietest record of their new millennium reunion, I Bet On Sky rarely roars with abandon -- oddly, it's Lou Barlow who brings the noise with the appropriately named "Rude" and "Recognition," but J Mascis does kick in the glorious breakneck rocker "Pierce the Morning Rain" -- with the band indulging in different textures and tempos, opening up their music in a way the concentrated Farm didn't quite manage. This shift is evident from the start, when "Don't Pretend You Didn't Know" glides by on the back of an eerie analog synth line before surging into a chorus graced with piano, signaling that this is the Dinosaur Jr. with the most sonic color since Green Mind. Pianos pop back up on "Stick a Toe In," the band almost works out a heated groove on "I Know It Oh So Well" then lies back on "Almost Fare," finding space for the exploded pop of "What Was That," crunching power chords of "Watch the Corners," and closing off the proceedings with the mini-epic "Set It On Your Side." As always with Dinosaur Jr., underneath all that sound lie some sturdy bones, songs constructed with expert, unassuming craftsmanship and a sly wit, but it's the variety and adventure that makes I Bet On Sky something more than another excellent Dinosaur record.

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