Elastic Days, by J. Mascis – a dinosaur far from extinction
J. Mascis runs the risk of looking like an adult who refuses to leave his teen years behind, but is that actually a bad thing? His long white hair, often topped by trucker hats, thick and round-framed glasses, t-shirts with odd drawings, not that far from what Daniel Johnston would put on.
His music, both in Dinosaur Jr and solo endeavours, is essentially an extension of that. When we hear him talk, his tone swings between “I don’t give a damn” and the voice of someone who is smoking a fat blunt. It’s hard to discern whether J. couldn’t care less about things or if he’s just putting on a display. Music-wise, there are no doubts whatsoever, it’s totally laidback, made by someone who feels at home wallowing in life’s misery. Probably, this sweet taste of suffering is related to the fact that J. is a devotee of Hindu deity Mata Amritanandamayi, whose teachings are based on the Vedas.
But there is not a single titbit of world music in Elastic Days anyway, the latest J. Mascis’ work. As a matter of fact, the imagery he summons is not far from what the self-titled song presents: a beach lost in a distant summer of long days, where everyone could easily go surfing or skating, as if the whole world were the 70s California. Or the Algarve, if we want to look at things through a Portuguese lens.
Unlike the majority of his solo records, Elastic Days J. goes beyond the acoustic realm, often surprising us with subtle and exciting electric guitar solos. Despite its captivating texture, where we just want to keep on dwelling, Elastic Days is still a record full of hooky songs, quite different from each other. So much so that, See you at the movies, picked as the single by J. Mascis, is not even one of the most memorable song on it. The winner in that fight is probably Sky is all we had or the self-titled track.
Among the guests, most were also part of Tied to a Star, released in 2014, including Pall Jenkins from the Black Heart Procession, a band that has been on tour with J. and this difference is quite noticeable compared to other works by J.
If the previous stage of Mascis’ solo career could seem detached from his band efforts, things have changed with the return of Lou Barlow to Dinosaur Jr. Firstly, because J. is no longer the only one songwriter and that jeopardized some of the experimentalism that could be felt in the discography of Dinosaur Jr’s second life. At this point, J. Mascis’ solo career seems more a continuation of his band’s previous stage than his own solo effort and this is just outstanding, because we can enjoy two different Dinosaur Jr. entities at the same time.