Album review: Grandaddy – Last Place

Grandaddy - Last Place

Grandaddy - Last Place - Credit: Archant

The California band continue to feather their pigeonhole with rusting ennui, lullaby-soft vocals and pretty, power-pop ditties – and if it ain’t broke...

Many will have a soft spot for Grandaddy’s lo-fi, playful mangling of analogue electronica, indie guitar, soft harmonies and doomsday narratives, which hit a high watermark on 2000’s sophomore LP The Sophtware Slump.

Their fifth album proper is the first new music from the band in 11 years, after frontman Jason Lytle spent time reconnecting with nature and recording two solo records. Picking up where they left off, Last Place feels like a comfy alt-indie sofa.

The boldest songs are lumped at the start, recent single The Way We Won’t proffering instantly familiar power-pop, its child-like bloopy synth refrain hanging out at the crossroads of brio and Brio, aping their early classic A.M. 180.

Evermore’s woozy locomotive rhythm propels a dark, skulking sigh of a melody and boasts perhaps the album’s most evocative lyric: “You grieve like a freeway tree/Old and grey… No love in your leaves”.

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Sandwiched between the two is Brush With The Wild, still flush with the frisson of romance – even though it’s already a memory.

But its quieter, more considered corners can be just as rewarding. The Boat Is In The Barn looks back fondly on a love extinct, optimistic the fire will be rekindled, while Lytle’s long echoes and the band’s basic guitars float on an orchestral lilo.

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Gentle anguish and an enveloping sense of dislocation and alienation is delivered in I Don’t Wanna Live Here Anymore and A Lost Machine’s combo of dreamy music and lyrical paranoia.

There’s even room for some refreshingly jerky, charging rock in Chek Injin, ticking every Grandaddy box.

So Last Place is business as usual. Even if it lacks the boldness and breadth of their best work (acknowledged here with a lush piano nod to The Crystal Lake B-side She-Deleter), it’s heartening to have them back.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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