For more than three decades, J Mascis has created moods even more than he’s written songs. No artist to emerge from the underground in the Eighties captured melancholy quite like he did with Dinosaur Jr. — he always sounded like someone who’d just given up on everything, trying to figure out what went wrong as he croaked out his lyrics and played transcendent solos. On Ecstatic Days, his latest solo LP, he presents the Mascis vision unfiltered. He plays almost all of the instruments himself, strumming an acoustic guitar, playing his soaring electric leads and letting his drumming serve more like a motor than a backdrop to his perpetual ennui. Highlights (or maybe lowlights in his case, in only the most complimentary way) include an almost countryish song “Picking Out the Seeds,” which contains the admission, “I’m looonely,” the lightly-rocking ballad “See You at the Movies” on which he admits, “Finding you is easy/Finding me is hard,” and “Everything She Said,” an almost hopeful-sounding rumination on a broken relationship. A lot of the time, his lyrics are impressionistic, just giving a sense of the hope he’s searching for, but that’s what makes his music enthralling. You feel it more than trying to make sense of it.
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