J Mascis – Tied To A Star
Is any phrase in the pop lexicon even half as soul-crushing as ‘solo album’? They’re often drab affairs, characterised less by the artist’s individual talent than the absence of their bandmates. We’re lucky that no-one told Dinosaur Jr’s own J Mascis, whose second solo collection in three years is downright lovely.
Sidestepping Dino’s squalling guitar heroics, that idiosyncratic yowl has rarely sounded as heartbreakingly weary as it does here, particularly on Come Down’s delicate folksiness. The nimble-fingered Wide Awake is a winner too, soothing eardrums as gently as summer rain. A sudden crash of chords leads into a quietly beautiful coda, assisted by the sonorous tones of Chan Marshall, but the closest we come to his day job is the not-quite-noise-pop of Every Morning, where hooks comfortably win out over volume. The tranquility of solitude, in fact, turns out to be a genuine boon for J’s unique muse. Who’da thunk it?