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Back of Beyond
on 3 August 2011
Having come to this after their more recent (as of 2011) release, Farm, I was glad I did not purchase this in 2007. It was a relatively big deal that DJ had reformed with the original group, last seen on Bug and I was rather excited but had almost overdosed on all of their previous albums so was not as eager to indulge as I would have been 10 or so years ago. But when Farm came out it was the cover that hooked me. Very old skool DJ. And the music reflected this as well. It was a mixture of the later stuff with a tinge of Sebadoh for good measure. Beyond is good but just the least interesting album they have made.
'Almost Ready' is a good opener and quite upbeat; a great intro to a newer DJ. 'Crumble' however sounds very reminiscent of their post Green Mind country-grunge but has no hook or finesse. 'Pick Me Up' starts better and almost sounds like a throwback to Bug. The first half of the song has great power and melody and should have stopped at 2 or 3 mins in length. The final act is all widdly solos from an increasingly overindulgent Mascis. You can tell 'Back To Your Heart' is written by Barlow as it sounds like a Sebadoh song which is odd on a new DJ album. Ironically however, it is the best song on this album by a long shot in my opinion. It's well crafted and paced and has a great melody. 'This is All I Came to Do' is ok but does go on slightly too long for its own worth. It revolves around a typically catchy Mascis chorus that loops and repeats many times. This has worked on past tracks that use simple melodies to great effect, like 'Seemed Like the Thing to Do', but here it gets a bit boring. The single, 'Been There All the Time' is good and has energy but does not outshine any of the great DJ back catalogue.
'It's Me' I really like. It's grungey, has a swagger and the repeated meme works well here. 'We're Not Alone' is essentially 2 tracks. One is an almost acoustic ballad and the other is a country hoe-down. And they both work surprisingly well together. 'I Got Lost' is the 'ballad' and does not work as well as any of the band's other ballads to date. 'Lightning Bulb' is another Barlow effort but it's not as good as 'Back...' 'What If I Knew' finishes it off well but is no classic.
A good album, but by DJ's standards they have never been just good. Gladly they got better...