Capsule Review: Last Place – Grandaddy

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This piece was originally published by Audioxide in March 2017.

It’s tempting to simply exalt Last Place for being an actual, legitimate, bona-fide Grandaddy record, because holy shit it’s an actual, legitimate, bona-fide Grandaddy record! I’d love to just skip around and rhapsodize about how it’s not some ersatz approximation that kind of, sort of sounds like Grandaddy’s woozy, bittersweet brand of indie-rock, and about how much of a relief this is. We are, however, talking about a band that has only recently returned from a lengthy hiatus, so I appreciate that such statements cannot stand on their own, because what the fuck is a Grandaddy record, anyway?

Well, as with Grandaddy’s best work, Last Place is a deeply sad thing. The band always had an easy-going, slacker’s charm about them – a strange way of working a sense of nonchalance into tracks that lesser bands would have turned into grand gestures – but this quality often betrayed a weariness and a melancholy. They were never the sort to quiver in the throes of despair or make Big Statements about how terrible everything is, but would rather shrug, sigh, and maybe crack a joke about the inexorable sameness of existence, or the insecurities and loneliness woven into modern life. Grandaddy were resigned, but never whiney or self-important: they were grounded, relatable; your depressed, stoner best friend, slumped on the sofa with a fragile grin and a profound longing in their eyes. Turns out they haven’t moved off that sofa in the eleven years since 2006’s Just Like the Fambly Cat. That is to say, Last Place is an actual, legitimate, bona-fide Grandaddy record not only because the band employs the same sonic palette and songwriting quirks as before, but because, even in the seemingly perky numbers, it retains a sense of melancholy nonchalance, an acceptance that we’re always on some kind of scrap heap. It superficially sounds like a Grandaddy album, yes, but it also works on you like a Grandaddy album; it’s entirely of a piece with their earlier work, and, given how long they’ve been away, that’s quite remarkable.

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