Beyond is very different then all the other Dinosaur Jr albums before it.For the first time, Mascis is assertive about his talent. He sounds engaged -- in music, in life (as he acknowledges on the chorus of the opening "Almost Ready," "C'mon life/I'm almost ready") -- and it gives the album a powerful sense of purpose that the classic Dinosaur albums were lacking by their very design. But Beyond isn't great simply because it's cohesive; it's great because it's as bold, vital, and monstrous as their best early work. As soon as the album crashes open with "Almost Ready," it's clear that they have tapped into the essence of their music, and their thundering roar sounds are as vivid and thrilling as they were their first time around. After that shock fades, it soon becomes apparent that Mascis' writing is as forceful and surprisingly melodic just like his guitar playing, and it soon becomes apparent that he's no longer hiding his heart or humor beneath his band's walls of sounds. They're proudly out in the open for everyone to notice. This fact is brought into sharp relief by Lou Barlow's songs, two tunes that are typically turned inward, they're enlivened by being delivered by this remarkable band, which gives Lou's songs a backbone that they never quite had in Sebadoh. The presence of Barlow's songs help emphasize that Beyond is a full-fledged reunion, the sound of a group making amends and reconnecting with their strengths. Lou left the band because J didn't let his songs on Dinosaur's records, but now that they're back together, it's a fully collaborative effort, and the band is stronger for it. This reunion album proves that. Beyond is not just a worthy album from a reunited band, it's simply a great record measured by any standard.