Bug is the third and final pearl in the string of albums released by the original formation of Dinosaur Jr. The music here shows the band moving into ever more orderly realms of composition and structure, even as anecdotal evidence suggests that they were coming apart at their physical seams.
After the release of Bug, Dinosaur changed their name to Dinosaur Jr, due to the protests of a band of San Francisco ballroom-era leftovers. This seemed incredibly stupid at the time, but now it is possible to see as both a remark (by the hippies) that the band was starting to become known, as well as one by the band that they didn't give a fuck. It was in this time that people truly began to appreciate the power of the songs that had always lurked inside the band's sonic cataclysm. Live shows of the period were incredible. They harnessed a very special kind of aggression like no one else, and the emotional turmoil inside the band frequently erupted into something cathartic and Brobdingnagian. J had moved to New York City, and there was a new sense of disconnect within the band. Lou was doing his own recordings for Homestead, Murph was playing more aggressively than ever, and J was kinda doing his own thing. Without any songwriting input from Barlow, the material for Bug was scripted entirely by Mascis, and when it was time to record the stuff, J had very specific ideas about how everyone's part should be played. If the band prior to this had been operating in at least a faux-democratic way, that pretense was now shucked. It was, it seemed, J's band. And this knowledge (both within and without the group) loaded some of their live shows with a particularly furious edge.
There might be true havoc on stage, now and then, as J and Lou's antipathy towards each other increased, but more often this negative gush was channeled into an orgy of magnificent meat music. The trio's roar - one that had initially seemed impossible to contain or control - began to assume a comprehendible shape in front of an audience that was familiar with the material (from the records) and attuned to its details. Not all their live shows were perfect, but there were lots of great ones, and their first trip to Europe in late '87, brought them before a group of people who were both delighted and mystified by their utterly American combination of explosions and mopery. The British press fawned over them (in their own tongue-in-ass fashion), but Dinosaur Jr's true impact was on the audiences, who were absolutely ready for the stylistic shift into post-core non-ironic-rock that the band's music suggested. Indeed, it is postulated that a whole generation of British "shoegazer" bands sprang up as a reaction to that first visit. Even if this is hyperbole, it is undeniable that Dinosaur Jr were offering a way out of the noise morass for certain group of misfits.
Their songs were complex in a way that seemed both simple and intuitive, their lyrics were sad and reflective without appearing obnoxiously introspective. These were graspable creative tenets, so it made sense that they would be aped. And aped they were. The band's profile on the American scene was growing exponentially at the same time. This had been something in the making for a while, but their popularity was blown wide open by Bug, and its accompanying single, "Freak Scene" - a classic slab by any known yardstick.