The first twenty-five seconds of Dinosaur Jr.’s second album are furious. A drum fill announces the alien, soaring guita,r and three wails (courtesy of Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo), before this cerebral beauty concedes to an excellent indie rock song. Evident from this moment and later experiment Poledo, Dino Jr. could’ve made an incredible and unique noise rock album. Those seconds are airier and less punk-ish than anything Sonic Youth had released, but far more violent in its emotion than the songs the highly influential My Bloody Valentine would put out on its genre defining album the following year. But that wasn’t their intention. As much fun as Lou Barlow had here and in his side project Sebadoh with lo-fi noise experiments, J Mascis, his slacker drawl, and his fuzz soaked guitar are the defining elements of You’re Living All Over Me.
Guitar solos are uncommon in indie rock, but not unheard of. Still, they’re usually one of two varieties: measured, restrained, and emotional, or full on noise freak-out, and even then, they’re usually used sparingly. J Mascis shreds. On “Sludgefeast”, the apparent finale to an already mostly instrumental song only allows a second of silence before an appended coda takes its place, featuring an insane solo that fades as quickly as it announced itself. “Raisans” has one of the albums catchiest melodies. It’s an earworm of a chorus, even with a verse that is comparably nebulous. The ability to shift between loud and soft (as Pixies would do on next years Surfer Rosa) was present, but more stunning was the shifts between stylistic opposites. From heavy metal to near pop, songs were often conjoined only by attitude and guitar tone. “Raisans” follows its chorus by becoming briefly sedated and acidic before an explosive cascade of wah-drenched guitar announces the finest solo on the album.
When searching for the influences of Dino Jr., many seem disparate and eclectic, but a similar fusion of Neil Young and hardcore punk can be found in the Meat Puppets. They have the ability to shift between tempos and styles, are alternatively psychedelic and aggressive, all years before Dino Jr. had even recorded their first album. But, as much inspiration can be found in their sound, the spirit of Dinosaur Jr. is unmistakable. It is juvenile and aggressive, but totally open and vulnerable. They so embodied the slacker ethos that they didn’t need to prove it in their music. The cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” cuts off just before the chorus (which they reinterpreted as a desperate, lethargic, metal plea), because they ran out of tape. A knack for pop hooks, love of diverse styles of music, and indescribable guitar chops and tone are the pieces that make You’re Living All Over Me click, but the complete earnestness with which they’re synthesized is what makes it special.
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