J Mascis - Elastic Days - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

J Mascis - Elastic Days

by Brian Thompson Rating:8 Release Date:2018-11-09
J Mascis - Elastic Days
J Mascis - Elastic Days

When he isn’t cranking out sturdy records with seminal Massachusetts rockers Dinosaur Jr., J Mascis is exploring his lighter side. Through a slew of heartfelt solo releases, he has leaned heavily into a laid-back, folksy atmosphere, using open-veined, acoustic confessionals to expand his rich catalog. Following suit, Elastic Days finds Mascis embarking on an artistic excursion through the varied aesthetic channels of songcraft, resulting in some of his most affecting tracks to date.

Even by the lofty standards set by a musician with as rhythmically diverse a catalog as J Mascis, this is an album of sonic exploration. Although there are many tracks built around open-strummed campfire chords, like the bluesy “Elastic Days,” that simple skeleton only serves as the starting point. The melancholy coffee shop singer-songwriter fingerpicking of “Sky Is All We Had” gives way to fuzzy, blazing guitar licks and the Neil Young-tinged cowboy acoustic strumming of ”I Went Dust” expands to blossom into a pervasive full band number. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Mascis ventures into a wide range of territory, from the shaggy, dazed “See You At The Movies” (“I don’t peak too early / I don’t peak at all”) to piano-infused pop tunes like “Picking Out The Seeds” and the spirited guitar work of the spastic, pensive “Cut Stranger.”

Much of the album feels perpetually wistful, even in its admitted optimism. When Mascis mutters “Won’t you come and see me? / I’ll be fine” on the dreamy, melodic “Web So Dense,” it sounds like he’s trying to convince himself. However, as Elastic Days progresses, he actually allows himself to experience something resembling genuine happiness. The album’s final trio of songs become increasingly jubilant, as the peppy autumn breeze of ”Sometimes” leads into the impassioned and flighty Latin guitar tickles of “Wanted You Around,” finally culminating in the bouncy, upbeat “Everything She Said.” We are able to chart his journey toward self-acceptance in real time, as the landmark rocker develops the confidence to craft introspective pop tunes.

With Elastic Days, J Mascis proves once again just how dynamic he is as a performer. Whether he is delivering layered ballads (“Give It Off”) or mid-90s alt-rock jams (”Drop Me”), he feels emphatically at home in seemingly any fertile artistic space. As the record’s title would suggest, Mascis has gotten even more mellow with age, learning to go with the flow and allow himself to be overtaken by whichever creative spirits happen to emerge from the void at any given moment. He has inspired a generation of copycats, not simply for his signature stylings, but for his resolute ability to adapt.

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