J Mascis - Elastic Days (Cover Artwork)

J Mascis

Elastic Days (2018)

Sub Pop

It doesn’t take very long into J Mascis’s new solo offering Elastic Days for him to violate the restrictive shuffling acoustic and piano template for a white-hot electric guitar lead (about 1 minute approximately). The man cannot resist ripping off a squealer, and those guitar peels are just as much a part of his music as his characteristic mumble / moan vocals. His solos and licks often strike closer to the heart of his emotional intents with his music than the lyrics do.

Elastic Days is Mascis’s seventh solo recording and third in his series of solo albums for Sub Pop. Recorded at his Biquiteen studio in Massachusetts, the album features contributions from Ken Miauri on keyboards, Pall Jenkins, Mark Mulcahy, and Zoe Randell on backup vocals. The album was mixed by John Agnello and sees Mascis commandeering much of the instrumentals. Serving as a respite from the usual snarl and bite of a Dinosaur Jr. album, Elastic Days allows Mascis to flex the melodious capabilities of his singing and add some nuance to his occasionally monochromatic vocals. The stripped-down acoustic approach illuminates melodic riffs and walkups that are usually buried in walls of distortion and feedback.

Lyrically, the album doesn’t shatter any ceilings of profundity. It’s mostly vague laments on personal shortcomings in relationships both intimate and fraternal. Mascis’s guitar further elucidates the moods Elastic Days seeks to explore. “See You at the Movies” is one of the stronger tracks here, balancing those acoustic elements with delightful electric interludes. Other highlights included the driving piano plinks that accentuate “Drop Me”’s verses and the boisterous momentum of “Cut Stranger.”

If you’re a fan of J Mascis’s guitar work and looking for a more subdued excursion than Dinosaur Jr., you will find much to love on Elastic Days.