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Joey O.

CD of The Week

Week of 3/06/17

    Grandaddy - Last Place (30th Century / Columbia)

    When we last left Grandaddy in 2006, they were basically down to a one-man project of Jason Lytle's, with their fourth album Just Like the Fambly Cat being virtually self-recorded and released after their breakup. Six years later, Grandaddy found a second life by playing reunion shows at festivals and Lytle teased of a possible new full-band release. Thanks to a PledgeMusic drive and signing with Danger Mouse's 30th Century Records, Last Place was finally released upon the world. Considering Lytle's reclusive nature and a changed music industry, no one really knew what to expect. But remarkably, it is as if nothing has changed at all.

    Every reason fans might have had for liking Grandaddy's specific brand of whispering digitized space folk is back on Place. Soft, fragile melodies featuring sonic flourishes can be found on the beautiful, building "A Lost Machine" or the intimate "That's What You Get for Getting Outta Bed." For catchy electronic power pop and driving tempos, look no further than the lead single "Way We Won't" or the sad trombone hook in "Brush with the Wild." Standard Grandaddy piano ballads are featured on Flaming Lips-ish "This Is the Part" and the Mike Viola/Emmitt Otter's Jug Band Christmas hybrid "Songbird Son." They even brought back their fictional Jed character for a fourth chapter in the personally metaphoric and aptly named "Jed the 4th."

    The music on the album is exceedingly cohesive. So much so, that with little exception, each song feels like a variation or reprisal of the song before it. Together, the songs also act as a concept album of sorts; featuring a string of self-referential songs with tangible and evolved emotions telling a story. "The Boat is in the Barn" is a fantastic track, transitioning from Supertramp piano to a sullen, floating chorus about one partner's tenacious, unrelenting feelings after a separation. And the plodding and infectious "I Don't Wanna Live Here Anymore" is a bitter nod to moving back home post-breakup, inexplicably finding that you don't fit in anymore. Sandwiched between the two is "Check Injin," an emotionally brash, grungy alt-punk ode to driving a car that could falter at any moment. Although it is the only departure of style on the album, its energy is essential to take the listener from sentimental to restless.

    What Last Place excels at is reminding everyone of the beauty that they are capable of. It is a refresher, creating a desire for fans to dig out their old albums, while listening to the new material. That nostalgic intent is sung about on their current single "Evermore:" "Evermore, gone but not forgotten / Anyway there's more / Evermore, lost but not for nothing / Here, but then what for?"

    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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