Better late than never.30th Century Records / Columbia, 2017
7.5 / 10
On their first album in 11 years, Grandaddy choose to do Grandaddy. This is no experimental, transitional album where the band signals its next musical metamorphosis. After all, a new Grandaddy album was never a forgone conclusion, even when they did reform in 2012 for some festival dates. With Last Place, Jason Lytle and company are making up for lost time. So in a way, this album feels like a gift to longtime fans, who were holding onto hope that the band would make new music. Stack it against the band’s past releases and Last Place sits snugly.
Grandaddy’s new songs nail all the strengths of their past songs. Lytle’s voice carries like a gentle whisper over the band’s space rock melodies. At 12 songs, nothing surprisingly feels like filler. Some songs obviously stand out as gems and will likely find more listeners under Grandaddy than Jason Lytle’s solo work. “The Boat Is In The Harbor” is one of the album’s most engaging songs. It’s instantly ear-catching with its opening keyboard that borrows from Three Dog Night’s “One”. The song then takes a sweeping somber tone that makes it hard to turn away.
Also good is the following song, “Check Injin”. It changes gears from the epic swells of “The Boat Is In The Harbor” for a heavier tempo that rolls faster with no brakes. The song lands as burly indie rock that bares just enough teeth. Menacing but also friendly as if you have to earn its trust. Jason Lytle’s voice receives the obligatory vocal manipulation from past albums to where he sounds like a robot. The best instance of this comes on “Jed The 4th”, a song that also references a character from past Grandaddy albums. The “Jed” is the same Jed from The Sophtware Slump‘s “Jed The Humanoid”. Grateful Jed sounds like a great name for a Grandaddy cover band.
Last Place‘s absolute best song is the spacious “A Lost Machine”. The song clocks in over six minutes but uses its lengthier time to evoke a woodsy eeriness. Its reminiscent of Flaming Lips when they choose sadness over strange. Coming near the album’s end, the song makes us not want to say goodbye to Grandaddy once again while also raising a series of questions. Where does Grandaddy go from here? Are they back for good? Does the band now work on tweaking its formula or settle into a Built To Spill career of spreading out serviceable albums? Last Place proves they can still make good music, so it would be unfortunate if they call it quits now.