J MASCIS - WHAT DO WE DO NOW

J MASCIS - WHAT DO WE DO NOW

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Released: 02/02/24

Solo albums from Dinosaur Jr. luminary J Mascis are, as a rule, less heavy than his output with Lou Barlow and Murph, and the Amherst, Massachusetts native’s fifth LP is no exception. And so, shoring up Mascis’s cracked and plaintive voice – a kind of cross between Neil Young and, um, Joe Biden (it’s great, honest) – and acoustic guitar, What Do We Do Now features keyboards by The B-52’s alum. Ken Mauri, and some downright lovely steel guitar by Canadian psych/folk/experimental musician Matthew “Doc” Dunn. To which heady mix Mascis invariably adds some nifty lead guitar.

For some fans there’s a tendency to see Mascis’s solo albums as pleasant marginalia in comparison to Dinosaur Jr, due to lacking the blistering fury of the latter’s best work (generally considered to be the first three albums), and 10 years ago I probably would have said the same. A little wiser these days, I now appreciate Mascis’s more pared-back work, shorn of myriad overdrive and effects pedals, not least as it reveals just what a sophisticated songwriter he actually is. God knows I will always love the post-hardcore majesty of You’re Living All Over Me and Bug, but if it's expertly crafted alt-country songs imbued with wisdom and tenderness, then the brilliant What Do We Do Now is the perfect fix.