Sweep It Into Space is Dinosaur Jr.’s 12th studio album, their fifth since the original lineup behind their seminal second album You’re Living All Over Me reformed in 2005. Oftentimes, the group are considered one-trick ponies, having a signature sound that they stick to come hell or high water. Those with that criticism will not be surprised that this album travels mostly along the well-trodden paths paved by the previous 12 albums, with a few notable exceptions.
The album opens with the roaring guitars and throbbing basslines of I Ain’t. This sets the scene for the album, a scene that is similar to the excellent Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not from 2016. The track would fit perfectly onto that album with its simple lyrics and piercing guitar solos that back J Mascis’ signature drawl-like singing. It’s a formula that works just as good today as it ever has.
Following on from the opener, Sweep It Into Space shows you all the sights that any good Dinosaur Jr. album should send you to. One highlight is To Be Waiting, drawing on from the previously mentioned You’re Living All Over Me more than most of the tracks on the album. The country twang of I Ran Away feels more like a cut from J Mascis’ recent solo projects, albums that feature the acoustic guitar more than its electric counterpart. It is a strong first single for the album, however it doesn’t work as well as the heavier numbers on the album.
Similarly, the first of bassist Lou Barlow’s traditional two songs for the album and also the second single, titled Garden, focuses on the softer side of the band. Sadly, when you compare it to the two tracks from Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not penned by Lou Barlow, whereas those were some of the best on the album and provided a bit of a change from the J Mascis classic formula, Garden is disappointing. However, the second of Barlow’s tracks, the closer You Wonder, makes up for this, and contains an excellent overdriven guitar solo in the center that works hard to stand out from all the other guitar solos on the album.
Another non-traditional song is Take It Back, which is led by a lesser used instrument for most of the band’s discography, a piano. This is quite a peppy song, that bounces through the verses of Mascis’ standard but undistracting lyrics to a chorus that almost sounds like an early Foo Fighters cut. It’s an interesting departure that provides a nice palate cleanser towards the back half.
Whenever you hit one of these subtly different songs and make it to a Dinosaur Jr. heavy number, you can fully experience the sludgy riffs, the euphoric solos and the thunderous rhythm section that made Dinosaur Jr. the steadfast statesmen of top-quality rock music they are today. The final three songs crescendo the album fantastically. If you enjoyed previous albums by the group, and especially their previous release, you will enjoy this one without a doubt.
This album is not one that will go down in history as a classic. However, it further proves the point that if you want a good rock album, nobody makes a better Dinosaur Jr. record than Dinosaur Jr. When you play this album in the car on a hot summer’s day, you’ll feel on top of the world, and for that reason alone it’s worth a listen. Highlights of To Be Waiting, Hide Another Round, N Say and the tour-de-force of Walking To You will make you glad that energy gained from the 2005 reunion shows no signs of stopping, in fact the opposite is true.