By Abby Jeffers, Contributor
[Sub Pop; 2018]
Key tracks: “Drop Me”, “Elastic Days”, “Web So Dense”
Marketed as a slight electric shift from his previous acoustic albums, Several Shades of Why and Tied To A Star, J Mascis released another project in a string of solo albums, Elastic Days. The frontman of Dinosaur Jr. did, in fact, morph into something more charged on this album; it feels closer to the work of his previous band than both of his two acoustic records. But there is something flat buried within the folk-rock that holds the album back.
Read more: Album Review: Kurt Vile – Bottle It In
Elastic Days blends electric elements into Mascis’ acoustic guitar strumming, but after either distorted or clear electric guitar solos thrown into the mix of nearly all 12 tracks, the trope becomes more than tedious. It is true that the electric picking is deft, and clearly, Mascis is talented, but the edge that it lends each of the tracks on Elastic Days does not outweigh the monotony of a similar song structure almost every time. There is only so far that a good guitar solo can be stretched, and an album with almost every track containing an individual solo lies beyond that limit.
The record might feel a little bit like coming home for fans of Mascis’ band, however, his folksy drawl and stark shifts from soft acoustic strumming to electric solos are reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr.’s later work. Mascis is vulnerable on Elastic Days, just like on his previous two solo records. On the album’s title track, which comes near the end of the record, Mascis sounds worn-out as he croons, “Let’s expect no more than all elastic day,” singing about flexibility as a coping mechanism.
There is an accessibility buried within Elastic Days: its folk-rock seems simple yet lacks no substance. This especially goes for tracks like “Web So Dense”, where Mascis’ husky vocals and warm strings create an almost-overwhelming build throughout the song. Later, the album’s subtle energy becomes more apparent on “Drop Me”, a track that, at first, may seem too similar to the rest, but later proves its worth in a smooth contrast between bright piano that plunks steadily behind tired lyrics: “I been trying / Now my time is lonely.”
J Mascis has churned out another stripped-down, emotional solo record with Elastic Days. And while the theme of electric guitar solos behind acoustic strumming may seem tedious at times, his deviance from the sound of his previous two records provides hope that he will continue to experiment and diversify his discography in the future.