Grandaddy: Blu Wav (Dangerbird) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, May 24th, 2024  


Blu Wav


Apr 12, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Over the course of 30 plus years and six albums, Grandaddy have at various times taken the form of twisted guitar pop ensemble, searching lo-fi experimentalists, and lounge band from outer space. They veer very much toward the latter on new record Blu Wav, a dreamy, intoxicating dose of melody and mood.

As Grandaddy main man Jason Lytle has steadily devolved his outfit from the full band of early records to the apparent one-man operation of today, he has gradually refined his sound to something instantly recognizable; a synth-driven narco-dream of woozy synths and delicate guitars offset by his yearning, everyman vocal. This process reaches an apex on Blu Wav, where Lytle ascends to something resembling blue collar auteur status, a solitary voice calling from the endless murk of the daily grind.

And it sounds like he’s had some days. There is a deeply set melancholy in the DNA of Blu Wav, a palpable sense of emotional exhaustion. It’s there in the lush, pillowy arrangements that shroud almost every track, a darkly luxurious soundscape that seems to gently beckon the listener with an outstretched hand. But it’s long been Lytle’s trademark to juxtapose that darkness with a curious sense of innocence, a sleight of hand that imbues even the most desperate missive with an underlying sense of hope.

Nowhere is this technique more acute than on the desperate break-up chronicle “You’re Going to Be Fine and I’m Going to Hell.” It’s all there in the title, which, somehow, is also the chorus. And somehow completely works. But you’re not sure why; is Lytle kidding, inviting us in on the joke? Is he serious? More pressingly, why is it that the deeper this track gets lodged in your brain the more you believe everything’s going to be okay? As swirling synths create a vortex of echo and Lytle sings, “Well, we lost out on love / And now you’re better off / But for me it’s not going so well,” he transmits such an air of acceptance that you find yourself nodding along benignly, oblivious to the brutal specifics of what he’s just conveyed.

About those synths; Lytle must own a shit ton of them. They’re everywhere here, and he expertly deploys them to give the album a lavish, nocturnal glow. You feel like you’re almost bathing in the sound. But Lytle’s secret weapon has always been his songcraft. The only reason the twee-adjacent lyric and deadpan delivery of “Watercooler” works is that the song is carried on a melody of true beauty. Lytle’s pop sensibilities have always been underplayed, but everything hangs together with his seemingly effortless way with a tune and expert’s knack for placing a harmony. The only true outlier here is “Yeehaw Ai in the Year 2025,” a haunting piano reverie accented by what could either be barks of electronic static or a madman trying to escape from your basement. The terror is short-lived, however, as the warm acoustic strumming of “Ducky, Boris and Dart” quickly takes us back to solid ground and Lytle assure us that “this ain’t the end / We will meet again.”

It’s this kind of sentiment that somehow defines Blu Wav. It’s a dream that at times resembles a nightmare, but Lytle always remembers to wake us up just in time. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10


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