Grandaddy - Last Place

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2017-03-03

Grandaddy was one of the most unique independent bands before their bust-up in 2006. The odd juxtapose of conventional pop-rock, and casiotones that dart across the songs like an out-of-control Fisher-Price toy. It could have been horribly inorganic, but actually Grandaddy’s music conveyed a great warmth thanks to Lytle’s very human take on technology and its convergence with our lives. He managed to wring pathos from his minor key symphonies, even when playfully weaving those electronic tones in haphazard fashion. Space-age adagio movements with mischievous segues.  

The devastating beauty of  “He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot” from Sophtware Slump, the soothing female voiceover on “Miner at the Dial-A-View” which reminded me of those entrancing airport announcements in Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey. The crestfallen vocals on “I Wonder Why in L.A” which appeared on their live set-lists. These were examples of the transcendence of Grandaddy's music. Only Mercury Rev could approach that on Deserter Songs. Lytle’s voice was mangled beauty. Like Thom Yorke could be, but with a poignancy that gripped and left you feeling emotionally exhausted. 

There are tracks on reunion album Last Place just like that. “The Boat in the Barn” and “Jed The 4th” are two examples. On “Jed The 4th” the vocal distortions and typically stodgy rhythm base are held together by Lytle’s immaculately dressed high-pitched tenor, again very much like Jonathan Donahue’s from Mercury Rev. There’s still the experimental patchwork of ideas, the odd time signatures, the antiquated electronics bubbling on the surface, the plaintiveness of the quiet passages, the unexpected and hyperactive segues into college rock. 

Last Place is Grandaddy in nostalgia mode. Still wilfully shambolic but if you’ve familiarised yourselves with their past work, you’ll feel right at home here. Pop tracks ‘Evermore’ and ‘Way We Won’t’ will be faves for those who liked past tracks like ‘A.M 180’, but for those who prefer the mournful ‘Saddest Vacant Lot In All The World’ from Sumday, try “Jed The 4th”- soul music for urban depressives, and quite lovely. 

Not their best album. Hard to beat Sophtware Slump and Sumday, but strong reminiscences make it worthwhile. 

 

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