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Now It's On: A Look At Grandaddy's Sumday (v2)

by paul jaissle

When Modesto, California's favorite indie-popsters Grandaddy released their 2000 opus The Sophtware Slump, a lot of ink was wasted by rock critics who seemed obsessed with singer Jason Lytle's apparent fear of technology and its constant battle with nature. All of this fuss over simple lyrics (as well as some downright pointless comparisons to Radiohead) overshadowed the glorious beauty of the music, which was at once shiny and melancholy with just a hint of Y2K paranoia thrown in for good measure.

Three years later, Lytle and company emerge with their third full length, Sumday. Not wanting to prove the critics point that they were a group of narrow-minded musical luddites, Grandaddy show just how ridiculous those Radiohead comparisons were by producing a wonderful little album with no great philosophical statements, but with plenty of catchy indie-rock ditties.

Case in point is the album opener 'Now It's On,' a four minute pop tune that perfectly encapsulates the very essence of Grandaddy: lilting melodies, buzzing analog synths, and a chorus that just begs to be sung while piloting your automobile during the summer months. In fact, it seems a crime that this song won't be playing on the radio this summer since it is one of the most glouriously catchy summer singles in recent memory. The same could be said for most of the twelve songs held here. Unlike the almost space/rock opera quality of Sophtware Slump's 'He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's the Pilot,' Lytle keeps the tunes on Sumday short, sweet, and fun. A better collection of melodic pop songs would be difficult to find, especially one that keeps a relatively similar tempo throughout and never seems to drag or suffer from a feeling of sameness.

Lyricly, Lytle keeps the mood lighter as well on this outing. Sure, there are still the nature vs. technology tales we saw on Sophtware Slump, especially on 'The Group Who Couldn't Say' which features a group of office desk jockeys discovering "the perfection of an outdoor day." He even assumes the character of a brokenhearted computer on the melancholy 'I'm On Standby' in which he laments 'I got good at saying "I gotta go", number one at saying "I don't know" but from the stories that I heard, you humans require more words.' It seems that Jason Lylte no longer fears technology, he sees it as a way to describe real human emotions. And real emotions take center stage on such songs as 'The Warming Sun,' 'O.K. With My Decay,' and 'The Saddest Vacant Lot in All the World,' which features the brilliant line ' he's so drunk he's passed out in a Datsun, that's parked out in the hot sun, in the saddest vacant lot in all the world.'

That's not to say that Sumday is a heady affair. The group offers up some brilliantly absurd indie-pop with the song 'Stray Dog and the Chocolate Shake' which features nods to shitty limousines, high school football coaches, robots, and drivers with magic hair. This song more than any other on the album prove (to me, anyway) what puts G-Daddy head and shoulders above other indie rock acts: Jason Lytle and company are capable of delivering both heartfelt and absurdist songs with an equal level of sincerity that has so far escaped Modest Mouse and the like. If Sophtware Slump got the group noticed, then Sumday should establish Grandaddy as a top-notch musical outfit with no signs of slowing down.

Issue 14, August 2003 | next article


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