Grandaddy - The Sophtware Slump

Album cover

  1. He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot (8:52)
  2. Hewlett's Daughter (3:06)
  3. Jed The Humanoid (4:18)
  4. The Crystal Lake (5:00)
  5. Chartsengrafs (2:51)
  6. Underneath The Weeping Willow (2:40)
  7. Broken Household Appliance National Forest (4:34)
  8. Jed's Other Poem (Beautiful Ground) (3:25)
  9. E. Knievel Interlude (The Perils Of Keeping It Rea (1:57)
  10. Miner At The Dial-A-View (5:21)
  11. So You'll Aim Toward The Sky (4:44)
  12. Our Dying Brains (4:45)
  13. First Movement/Message Sent (9:56)

V2, 2000

The dodgy title is a poor advert for a deservedly acclaimed psychedelic-pop landmark from the turn of the decade. It's a colourful combination of bite-size singles, epics and oddities, more melancholy than the Flaming Lips, less theatrical than Mercury Rev. Grandaddy blend lo-fi grumbling guitars, and an organised chaos of exotic scratchy keyboards, with the mellow vocals of Jason Lytle - a familiar sound, but they have an individual take on it. Their dystopian world is populated with knackered electronics of various forms, and their songs come across as wistful elegies from a mechanically unstable future.

Its epic beginning certainly takes hold of you. "He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's the Pilot" builds over nine minutes towards a soaring chorus of "you've given in, 2000 man" backed with pulsing piano chords. Not far from "Dark Side of the Moon" - people who think this goes on too long are most likely not Pink Floyd, or Porcupine Tree fans. I recall another reviewer's apt summarisation of this album as "not-so-OK Computer", and the similarly epic "So You'll Aim Toward the Sky" is Radiohead all over, spacious melancholy and detached crooning vocals.

Elsewhere it's peppered with peculiar but catchy tunes, such as "Jed The Humanoid". This dirge to a dead robot is smeared with Star Trek vocal ahhs and old-fashioned spacey electronics, and suitably, as repetitive as a broken record (or robot). A batch of strong single-type rockers include "The Crystal Lake" with its Muse-like keyboard whizzes, and the snarky chorus of anti-flytipping anthem "Broken Household Appliance National Forest".

Overlooked compared to "The Soft Bulletin" or "OK Computer", this is perfectly formed, warmly-produced space-pop songwriting.

December 13, 2005

8 out of 10

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written and maintained by Christopher Jackson