May 11, 2006
Grandaddy "Just Like the Fambly Cat"
It's sad, knowing that Grandaddy has brought its storied career to an end. Yeah, I know, bands break up, artists decide not to make art any more, and life goes on, but Jason Lytle's always been…he's always been a little special. Ya know? Many people (me included) fell in love with the 'daddy when they heard The Sophtware Slump, and rightfully so. Mellow prog-lite songs about robots and lakes and falling in and out of love sung by a dude with a falsetto that sounded angelic and innocent—it all seemed so otherworldly, so beautiful, and so, so right. It was a perfect album. The follow-up, Sumday, was a bit different, a little bit more upbeat; some didn't quite warm up to it, but it was a grower. (It finally became 'awesome' in my book after I put it on my stereo during a day-long road trip. The album's more rocking nature makes it the perfect soundtrack for a road trip.
But Mr. Lytle has decided that the sun has set on Grandaddy. Sad as the decision may be, it's hard not to respect a guy who decides that making music is no longer an enjoyable experience and decides to quit before mediocrity sets in. So, Just Like the Fambly Cat is Grandaddy's fare-thee-well to the world. To keep with the computer technology theme of his music, I will now demonstrate how I feel about this development in the 21st Century's best way to demonstrate my feelings:
Just Like The Fambly Cat isn't a heady, mellow trip like The Sophtware Slump, and it's not the rock record that Sumday was, either. It's definitely a Grandaddy record, but it's easily their most upbeat, most rockin' record to date, yet it's enough like the previous two records to retain the qualities that made Grandaddy so well-loved. In fact, Just Like the Fambly Cat is pretty damn catchy and poppy and most accessible record to date. The album starts off with a loop of a child saying "What happened to the family cat?" while Lytle concocts a brooding electronic atmosphere below the child's voice. Then, of course, after two minutes, he and the band decide to let it rip and unleashes "Jeez Louise," one of the band's hardest, loudest songs ever.
The rest of the record follows the formula of: mellow prog-pop followed by some loud, driving rock, followed by some electronic silliness. That might be a recipe for disaster, but this is GRANDADDY we are talking about, so, you know, it's quite all right. The highlights include: the lovely "Rear View Mirror" (think 70s LA country-rock); "Where I'm Anymore" and its chorus that consists of Lytle singing "meow" over and over; the thrashy punky "50%"; and, of course, let's not overlook the telling "Elevate Myself," which is probably the most explicit description of why Lytle ain't wanting to make Grandaddy music any more. And check out the hidden fare-thee-well to the fans at the end of the record.
Lytle could have easily slacked off; he could have really jerked around his fans by releasing a half-assed record that merely retreads old concepts. He could have not even tried to make a good record. But he didn't do that. Instead, he put his time and effort into the record, and came up with one of the best records of 2006. Just Like the Fambly Cat is a dignified high note to end a career.
Listen to the new album here!