Farm is Dinosaur Jr.’s second album since the original lineup reunited in 2005, and it finds the trio revisiting the sound that made it such a touchstone for ‘90s alt-rock. As you’d expect from Dinosaur Jr., the guitars are permanently distorted and the rhythm section never lets up, with the album’s 12 songs offering little in the way of variation—there are no guest musicians on the record, and scarcely any overdubs beyond guitar leads and the occasional vocal harmony. Still, despite the heavy-hitting arrangements, the group lacks the aggression typically associated with hard rock, mainly because singer/guitarist J. Mascis comes off as perennially bored, as if there’s nothing he’d rather do than sit at home on his couch getting stoned.
The 21st century incarnation of Dinosaur Jr. is a little less adventurous than the band of old (there are no Sonic Youth-style noise freak outs), but its knack for melody remains untarnished. The album has more than its share of unforgettable choruses, and even the guitar solos are almost hummable. Best of the bunch is “Plans,” a sun burnt fuzz rocker with the oblique but affecting refrain of “I’ve got nothing left to be / Do you have something for me?” Intoned in Mascis’ apathetic delivery, the plea for help seems all the more desperate, and the overall effect sounds something like Pearl Jam with a really bad hangover. Actually, let’s give the group its historical due—Pearl Jam sounds like Dinosaur Jr. without a hangover.