J Mascis – Elastic Days

An album to get you through the lowest of days and longest of nights.
Label: Sub Pop
Released: 9th November 2018
Rating: ★★★

“I don’t peak too early, I don’t peak at all,” sings J. Mascis on opener ‘See You At The Movies’, and rarely has a line more accurately summed up an artist. The enigmatic Dinosaur Jr frontman has seemed to permanently exist just under the radar, a cult figure with distinctive slacker-style vocals and the ability to craft a soaring ‘Big Rock’ guitar solo out of thin air in a career spanning over thirty years.

Like autumn appearing quietly on the horizon, ‘Elastic Days’ carries a gentle, crisp and beautiful quality. With each track built largely on acoustic foundations before taking flight into spirals of harmonious riffs and vocals, everything appears to hover just out of reach at points, intangible but pulled back into sharp focus just before it meanders too much. Very much a low key collection in the same fashion as 2014’s ‘Tied To A Star’, the cursory lyrics allow the listener to fill in the blanks with Mascis never using five words when one would do.

Precious moments of fragility are captured, whether it’s the refrain of “I know it’s coming, I’m not that strong”  on the album highlight ‘Give It Off’, or the realisation that “You won’t take me back” on ‘Sky Is All We Had’. On ‘Picking Out The Seeds’, the message is even simpler as he softly murmurs “I’m lonely”. Throughout it all though, the gorgeous harmonies prevent it from wallowing or collapsing into too much sadness. ‘Elastic Days’ may set no new fires burning here, but it is instead a collection of expertly crafted lo-fi anthems packed with moments of exquisite beauty. An album to get you through the lowest of days and longest of nights.

Jamie MacMillan

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