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Rightly or wrongly, my brain has quite a hard time disentangling the bands Dinosaur Jr and Sugar, and by extension the solo careers of J Mascis and Bob Mould.

To make matters worse, I approach this review knowing Bob Mould has a new album out and a 6 Music DJ has just finished playing 'Fire in the City' from that record. It's a great song. No Chris, ignore Bob, concentrate on J.

It wouldn't matter a great deal if the solo career of J Mascis hit the highlights like his band has so often in the past. While Mould piled out of the extraordinary Husker Du and into Sugar, and has continued both bands' joyously riotous sound in his solo albums since, Mascis often seems confused about what he wants from his solo career. The suspicion persists that he feels a little alone without the comfort of a band name (even if it's 'the Fog') to keep him warm at night and though 2011's Several Shades of Why was an impressive piece of work, anyone claiming it was a career-high for Mascis has been on the nitrous oxide.

Not that Tied to a Star isn't an enjoyable record, quite the opposite actually, and I should stress that I'd be the last person to moan that Mascis ought to stick to Dinosaur Jr. If anything, his solo output cries out for the envelope to be pushed a little harder - there's no call for an Albarn-style album of weird sounds and collaborations almost for the sake of it, but in failing to forge a seriously unique sound Mascis makes you wonder why he's holding back.

This is an album filled with pleasant acoustic numbers, from the contemplative 'And Then' to the upbeat 'Drifter'. The lyrics don't explore much beyond the standard dreams, failures and regrets of rock music. A number of songs, in particular 'Heal the Star', sound as though they didn't make the cut of the last Dinosaur Jr album but Mascis wasn't willing to let them die, so he hammers away at the acoustic guitar instead to give them the life he feels they deserve.

The album's closer, 'Better Plane', mixes electric and acoustic to handy effect and is perhaps the best track on the record. The introduction of the electric guitar takes the sound closer to Dinosaur Jr and that underlines the trouble with Tied to a Star. Mascis seems intent on making songs by himself without allowing himself to express ideas his band would find unpalatable. Perhaps he has no other ideas and these are simply the songs he was born to make.

And that's fine, but it doesn't make Tied to a Star a great, or even necessary, record. It is worth a listen but won't hang around in the memory for long, which is not what we've come to expect from a legend like this.

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