In an attempt to make amends for a longstanding hiatus, Grandaddy return with their revealing fifth studio album Last Place. It is the California-based outfit’s attempt to rewrite a chapter in their catalog, but this time with a completely different outlook; one that hits the cathartic nail squarely on the head. Attribute the newfound focus to Jason Lytle who had to do some soul-searching of his own to find the right headspace, moving from Montana, to Oregon and eventually back to his California roots, confronting many demons along the way.
All the fine tuned elements are in place, everything from the easy breezing riffs and willowy vocals to the live wire synth. At times the prevailing sound can be redundant, but just as it’s about to fall off a cliff Lytle enters the fray and ups the ante. He’s opening his diary and holding every scar up to the bright light, everything from the dissolution of his marriage (“The Boat is in the Barn“) to another depression-battling chapter from the Jed the Humanoid saga (“Jed the 4th“). A tactful project that captures the seismic growth that has transpired.
A back to basics lullaby that embraces the soft touch of the everyday. There is a slight tongue-in-cheek tone that doesn’t go unnoticed, tilting the frame of banality in such a way that draws a warm chuckle. The heart is beating with joy, and he’s reminiscing over the innocence that what once was. The instrumentation aptly captures the emotion; lithe guitars, delicate vocals and whimsical synth: [LISTEN]
Lytle jumps into a lake of fire full of melting memories. He’s riffing away intently dreaming of a pair of crossing roads and the vastly different directions they embrace. There is an air of regret, but it doesn’t deter him from making the call. How the other end will receive it is anyone’s guess, and he’s willing to acknowledge the futility of it all. Sacrificing ego to put a question to bed: [LISTEN]
The synthesizers rise like early morning fog creating a dense atmosphere of uncertainty and pain. The percussion drives the action forward like a tsunami, and the culmination of unrequited loss weighs heavy on his mind. Everything is dark and melancholy, and the once beautiful landscape is left looking like a rundown construction site. Gray slag as far as the eye can see: [LISTEN]
Choppy riffs has Lytle reeling off memories like an old projector. A lost love hovers over him like a ghost, causing him to look back upon their past together as if it were a relic. He finds an old picture on the wall and his world slowly begins to collapse. Fortunately he’s handling the pain with integrity rather than cursing at it like a reckless adolescent. A break for some warm reminiscing: [LISTEN]
A high octane jam that propels the action forward like a rocket. Fueling the fire is his desire to escape, break free from all that’s been weighing him down. Despite the jalopy they’re riding in, they’re forging on, undeterred and full of youthful exuberance. All road trips start with promise, but this is far more destructive; impulsive and maddening, just what the doctor ordered: [LISTEN]
After a long journey a wayward traveler returns home exhausted, his head and heart resembling that of an old weather beaten work boot. He drifts about through the old digs like an afterthought, mulling over all the things that have and have not changed. The juxtaposition of his memories has him feeling vexed and its creating a stifling atmosphere. Fed up, he makes for the door: [LISTEN]
A thick smattering of melancholy acoustics has him sounding a lot like Elliott Smith. He’s feeling like hot garbage, a poor sapling with no zest. With nothing positive on the horizon he calls up the homies for a night out. It’s always a sad sight to see your buddy moping around like a dog, but getting out and dusting off the sadness is the first step towards recovery. A turn of the corner: [LISTEN]
The slow menacing pace is an apt accompaniment to the coursing venom in his fragile veins. There are peaks and valleys at every turn, and the lows are having him feeling like the end is near. He’s tried to ignore the pain, drown it out with fun and games but the only way to let it go is for it to run its course. His blood is carbonated and he’s purging all the leftover animosity: [LISTEN]
With no way out, Lytle does what any person in his position would do, drink himself into oblivion. The melodies swirl around and stumble over the beat, numbing his pain as the sweet elixir enters his bloodstream. The intensity of his anguish is slowly diminishing and just as he’s about to pass out he sees an old friend. A companion who’ll step up and tell it like it is: [LISTEN]
It begins with a slow building rhythm, and culminates into an opus where the natural land and digitized world intersect. The combination of the inorganic and organic create a tense feeling, a place that knows no peace or reconciliation. It marks an important moment in his recovery, and brings to light the damning grip technology has on us. Chaining the world down in wires and memes: [LISTEN]
A voice and a guitar is all he needs to express his deepest emotions. The scatterbrain synth peppered in between signifies an unnerving feeling that is now a permanent part of his psyche. Some things are better left unsaid, and he’s leaving it all behind once and for all. The scars are deep and he’s tracing them with his memories hoping that over time they’ll fade like all the others: [LISTEN]