Grandaddy – Last Place (3 stars)

Grandaddy – Last Place

Long-awaited reunion album from California indie-rock superheroes

When a long-awaited reunion has been spun out to this degree, it had better be good in the end. The 11 years between releases has seen a split, solo projects, one reconciliation, a move away from Modesto, California for their band's driving force Jason Lytle, and the realisation during the recording of the song 'A Lost Machine' that he was in fact working on a new Grandaddy record.

Oddly, that song itself is the penultimate track here, and it's part of a reflective, almost mournful conclusion which is at odds with the record's bright opening. If it's the song which inspired Last Place, it's coming from a beautiful but dark location. There's a wash of sad piano and spacey, Mercury Rev-sounding effects which see the narrator sheltering from some unspecified disaster at 'the temporary shelter in the roller rink' where there's 'live old-time music and it's warm inside'. With emotions flattened, he reports that 'every woman and child and man in the canyon lived,' before the song rises to an apocalyptic, traumatised finale.

This song is supplemented by the punch-drunk electro-acoustics of 'Jed the 4th' and the breathy closing ballad 'Songbird Son', in which Lytle pines 'you've lost your right to sing … message better left unsaid … don't say nothin'.' It's a deflating conclusion which straddles the line between defeat and acceptance, but it doesn't tell the full story of the record.

'Way We Won't' is a joyous, fuzzy rocker which sings the virtues of home and belonging; 'Evermore' confidently adds synths to the band's rustic rock roots; 'Chek Injin' is a blast of youthful skate-punk; and 'I Don't Wanna Live Here Anymore' speaks of a sense of rootlessness with breezy humour. For a reunion, the themes are strangely unsure and non-committal, but in both its depths and its peaks, the music still finds occasion to soar.

Out Fri 3 Mar.

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