Pre-grunge, slacker-era alternative rock doesn't age as badly as other trends, since American indie bands before Nirvana mostly strived to sound different. For Dinosaur Jr., the goal was always pure bubblegum pop buried beneath layers of crushing guitars, with catchy melodies nearly rendered moot by singer/guitarist J Mascis' distinctive Tom Petty-with-a-head-wound vocal delivery.
Mascis and co. (drummer Murph and bassist Lou Barlow) are true originals; you can never mistake them for another act. Farm, the band's ninth album and their first for the Jagjaguwar label, picks up where 2007's Beyond, a brilliant return from a 10-year hiatus, left off, even if it exchanges streamlined song structures for a varied attack. Case in point: "Plans," a seven-minute tune that simply glides courtesy of open-chord arpeggios and Barlow's high-end fretting. The solo here is particularly emotive, and you certainly must admire Mascis for working hard to avoid repetition and refusing to be lazy.
Further, the bright, shiny and effortless chorus in "Over It," along with Mascis' signature searing wah-wah pedal fuzz, prove Dinosaur Jr. isn't just punching the clock for this post-reunion effort. Indeed, once you experience the delirious wallop of "There's No Here" or the fluttering hammer-ons of "See You," you'll be scouring the house for a VHS copy of 1991: The Year Punk Broke.