Grandaddy - Sumday
4 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: July 24, 2003
Review by Tony BonyataFlaming Lips, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Pavement and Brian Wilson. There, now that the bulk of the influences and similarities that are so often attached to the Modesto, California indie quintet Grandaddy are out of the way, we can actually talk about the band and their third proper release Sumday.
After the cold telling of humans grappling with technology on their previous album Sophtware Slump, Jason Lytle (a former pro-skater turned singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer for Grandaddy) again revisits the relationship between man and machine - only this time the results are richer and warmer. When a group of corporate salesmen are sent on a short outdoor vacation as a sales incentive, they realize, for the first time, that there's actually a life away from their desktops. "Becky wondered why she'd never noticed dragonflies. Her drag and click had never yielded anything as perfect...as a dragonfly," Lytle sings with a wide-eyed, endearing whine over the sumptuously produced "The Group Who Couldn't Say."
And it's this same rediscovery of Mother Earth, not only lyrically but musically as well, that makes Sumday so enduring. While the grand, sweeping production values and quirky blips and bleeps that envelope this effort still alludes at the necessity for technology, the airy songs - sometimes geeky, often spacey and always expertly crafted pop filled with lush melodies - are proof that this band has figured out how to tweak the knobs while still taking time out to smell the roses. The quaint use of dated electronics on the catchy "Stray Dog and the Chocolate Shake" are so downright cute, in fact, that its easy to forget that these are actually machines making us smile, while a Mrs. Robinson background vocal-line brightens up the sunny number "El Caminos in the West."
Using the computer metaphor Lytle states "I'm on standby. Out of order or sort of unaligned. Powered down for redesign," but with Grandaddy's human touch warming the computer's mouse, their rebooted redesign is a complete success.
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