9 April 2017

Grandaddy - Last Place

11 years between albums is a hell of a long time, but when you have achieved the cult status that Grandaddy achieved then it is sort of forgivable.  It was also unexpected as they had split up after the release of ‘Just Like the Fambly Cat’ due to communication breakdown issues and lack of funds behind the band.  Again, that is also understandable as running a band is not cheap, so to return for more is sort of a surprise, but it might have also been required.  They had gotten back together for a few re-union shows, which went very well, then there were personal changes, especially for Jason Lytle whose marriage unfortunately broke down, and which seems to have informed the emotional subject matter for this album.  So, we know that this is going to be a turbulent album…

01 – Way We Won’t

The first song from the album, and although it feels like no time has passed at all, obviously, things have changed since they last recorded together.  There are hints towards Jason Lytle's divorce and move to Portland, which happened before the album was recorded.  It is a surprisingly joyful song, but the lyrics sound as if they have been tainted with regret, which seems to grow with each listen.  It is an interesting song, and sets the scene for the rest of the record.

02 – Brush with the Wild

Once more you have a song that is hinting at the end of a relationship, the metaphors about travelling, things being too tough, and everything crashing down in a glorious mess.  It is a beast of a song, with an amazing hook that just keeps giving with each spin of the record.  Some of the meaning is hidden in mystery, but some of it is blatant to be honest. Another great song.

03 – Evermore

Now this for me is Grandaddy at their best; musically it is the strongest on the album, as it has a heavy bass which gives it an edge; the atmosphere and tension of the song is massive and weighty.  Basically, it’s a sad song that keeps up that depressive feeling of the record, but misery has rarely sounded so good.

04 – Oh She Deleter :(

This is a brief 53 seconds of noise which takes the main synth riff of ‘Way We Won’t’ and gives it a piano backing with a slowed down edge.  It’s alright, but hardly essential.

05 – The Boat is in the Barn

This song is all about cutting people out of your life; removal of posts, pictures, and then the person themselves, so you're only left with memories which come back like waves across your mind.  It is happy and sad, a bit like how memories can be a mixture of two things at once.  The regret, anger, love and surprise are all there to see, and it is vocalised over some of the best music from the band, with no joke or flippancy on this one.  This is the best song of the album, as it handles so much emotion and translates that into a heart-breaking song.

06 – Check Injinn

This song is a rapid little number, it speeds along so fast that it’s almost a ‘blink and you miss it’ special.  It is heavy for an indie number, something that I really like as it shifts the dynamic of the album from being too identikit and similar.  The ranting, monotone, looping ending -asking someone to just keep fucking going- is spot on. It is a track that keeps appearing in my head every now and then, and always at the worst time. Thanks for that one Grandaddy.

07 – I Don’t Want to Live Here Anymore

If there was a song that represents the fallout from the divorce of Jason Lytle, this is it.   It shines a spotlight onto how everything went to shit, and there is no holding back.  It is a song that has a black soul at its core and does not give a damn.  Musically it’s a slower number that really shouldn't work
for me, it’s a little bit plodding, and it edges too near to being boring.  However, the bitching lyrics keep the interest going, by expressing the tidal wave of emotions experienced by the writer, they really save this song.

08 – That’s What You Get for Gettin’
Outta Bed

The self-pity is out in full force on this song, it’s a sad track to hear, with sorrow raining down making this song feel like a personal black rain cloud for everyone who has ever been dumped.  Not going to lie, at this point I think that there needs to be a cut off to the self-pity; it’s well played, but my deity isn't it drilled home, with the sad accordion playing so you know that you need to feel sad. Not for me, next one please.

09 – This Is The Part

Now ‘This Is The Part’ is just as sad as ‘That’s What You Get For Gettin’
Outta Bed’. It has a theatrical overture and strings all over it, and it nails it in a way that the last song failed to do.  It is focusing on the ending, everything has been said, and people are moving on, but there is still difficulty and sorrow.  It is sad, mournful, and written perfectly.  When Grandaddy gets it right, they really nail it!

10 – Jed the 4th

This song is very deceptive, it starts similar to ‘This Is The Part,’ and by the end of the two minutes it is random synth noise that would make the Super Furry Animals happy.  Short and sweet, but sort of random.

11 – A Lost Machine

The penultimate song of the album begins with noise, which gives way to a piano and synth melody, that gives way to the bleakest section of the album.  This should have a health warning, my deity it is harsh: ‘Approach with care’ as it is ‘Skeleton Tree’ dark.  You are not coming out smiling after this one, but it is a great song that just smashes you every time you play it.  You can hear the memories floating around and haunting the band, the past is a dark place, and it can be cruel. Approach with caution.

12 –
Songbird Son

Ending the album is a wistful song hinting at regrets and wishful thinking.  It is another track that ends in chaos and noise, so it’s sort of fitting for an album created in the aftermath of such a dramatic life event to sound as messed up as this one.  It’s a decent song in keeping with the feeling of the album.

This is a great comeback album from Grandaddy. It feels as if they have not lost a beat musically, and there’s obviously a great bond between them.  It’s a shame that this album has been created through the wreckage of a union between two people, but sometimes musicians create some of their strongest work when the world is at its worst for them on a personal level.  I am not saying that Jason Lytle purposely went through a relationship breakup to make a great album, but it has added depth here.  To be fair, there are a few tracks which would not be missed if they had been left off the album. If I am honest it is somewhat top heavy on the bleak sounding side, but is still a cracking record.  Here’s hoping for better times for the band!

8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart.

Top track – The Boat is in the Barn

You can purchase Last Place on Amazon here.

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