Let’s face it, Jason Lytle is Grandaddy. Even when he dropped the Grandaddy name and went solo, there was virtually no telling where one ended and the other began. Call it what you want; the songwriter draws from the same musical grab bag of tricks.
And in the end, that’s the best thing that can be said about Dept. of Disappearance, Lytle’s second solo release for ANTI- Records. Boasting 11 tracks of Lytle/Grandaddy’s trademark space-like indie pop, the record continues to fill the void left behind by a band many wish had never gone away.
The album’s title track finds Lytle in a skeptical mood, as he repeatedly muses, “You’ll never get away with this,” in his patented, half-asleep drawl. But he’s never been one to look too much on the bright side of things, and the music, driven by jerky synth and pro tool effects layered atop dream-like mid-tempo guitar pop, supports his curious lyrics.
“Hangtown” drifts sweetly like a Neil Young ballad from 2053, lifted by subtle piano, harmonica, and acoustic guitar, but even that can’t shake Lytle’s famed pessimism. Other tracks like “Willow Wand Willow Wand” and “Somewhere There’s a Someone” sound similarly pretty even as they wallow in sadness. “Get Up and Go” throws a little pep into the mix (“Get up and go /You can do it /Everything’s gonna be alright”), but the glimmer is fleeting.
But paranoia suits Lytle as well now as it did in his former band’s heyday, which will come as a relief to his cultish band of admirers. Grandaddy may have long since ridden off into the sunset (I’m stubbornly discounting their scattered reunion gigs, barring a proper tour), but with Lytle still crafting his wonderfully tweaked tales of dour dystopia, Dept. of Disappearance makes a convincing argument that they never really left.
Essential Tracks: “Hangtown”, “Get Up and Go”