Dept. of Disappearance
Oct 19, 2012 Web Exclusive
For some singers, performing within a certain vocal range can be a case of exploring strengths within their limitations. In Jason Lytle's case, his breathy, careful delivery is his strength; while occasionally swinging upward to touch a few high notes like taking his hat from a rack, he generally maintains a strangely soothing vocal demeanor. The effect is relaxing and calming; after a few songs, without realizing it, you've handed over the wheel to Lytle, who's been waiting patiently and never doubted you for a moment.
Dept. of Disappearance, Lytle's second proper solo album since the 2006 dissolution of Grandaddy, follows directly in the same vein of his earlier work, where the edges were rarely sharp around warm and welcoming melodic vehicles. The title track is an upbeat opener, settling into a guitar-driven chug following a short burst of electronic tension. After the ominous "You'll never get away with this, you'll never get the clearance/I work for the department, the department of disappearance," Lytle lulls with a dreamy, synth-and-strum chorus, at which point the prospect of disappearance begins to sound less like submission and more like deliverance.
If Lytle's voice seems a perfect, soothing bedside companion for your last earthly moments, he actually broaches that subject with "Your Final Setting Sun." However, rather than a morphine flow, he sets the track to a speedy gait and recalls his conversation with a fading friend: "That light you see's the setting sun/I know you've seen a few, friend, but tonight is going to be your final one."
Lytle touches on our impermanent presence throughout the album, though here the topic seems less a harsh truth than a tub where we can go bobbing for revelations rather than sour apples. And with the epic closer, "Gimme Click Gimme Grid," you can wade into it with him right up to your chin. (www.jasonlytle.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 9/10