The Sophtware Slump, indie band Grandaddy’s second record, is as majestic and grand as it is sleepy and introverted. Similar in style to records such as Radiohead’s OK Computer and Sparklehorse’s It’s A Wonderful Life, Grandaddy’s sophomore effort will both wake you up and put you to sleep at the same time.
Okay, so I know that a comparison to OK Computer is a fairly big claim, but this record is completely deserving of it. Musically, the sleepy and demanding songs, occasionally awkward instruments, melancholy vocal style and production style is very similar to that popularized by OK Computer. The progressive tinge hints towards an early Pink Floyd record. Lyrically, The Sophtware Slump deals with the failure of technology in society, and I’m sure you can make that Radiohead connection all by yourself.
The opener is a 9-minute epic that will blow your brains out. From there, up till about track seven, the album runs slightly-happyish and slightly-optimistic (excluding, maybe, “Underneath the Weeping Willow”), and yet still runs throughout with a melancholy feel to it; however, when we get to the closing four tracks, prepare to end crying. “Jed’s Other Poem” begins with a spoken-word intro, which makes you begin to believe that ‘Jed’ may be an old friend of the band’s who died or something. The creepy interlude after this, followed by the eerie, melancholy and plastically-happy “Miner At The Dial-A-View”, a track in which it’s the lyrics that really impress. The eerie closer, possibly the most Radiohead-y track on the album, ties off the loose ends well; except I simply can’t help but think Radiohead. I know it’s probably my fault, not theirs, but it starts off with an acoustic guitar playing awkward chords and a few dissonant technology-related sound effects, before the vocalist breaks into his best Thom Yorke impression and “No Surprises”-esque chimes enter. Surprisingly, however, when it ends, you’re left not with a cheesy, cringeworthy feeling, but highly impacted upon and emotional. It works. I’m not saying I don’t like the track, but it really has to be heard to be believed.
However I fear that I’m comparing it too much and not pointing out its uniqueness. Because it is unique. And I’m aware that I have just used a conjunctive to begin a sentence three times in a row. The Sophomore Slump is the kind of album that will put you to sleep if you’re not careful enough. Even if it’s playing in the background, it will push itself to the forefront of your senses and demand your attention, then promptly put you to sleep. It’s like Jigglypuff’s song. By no means is this a bad thing, however. The lush and thick texture, beautiful individual songs as well as the flow as a whole record requires that you listen to the album in full, and when you do you’ll want to do it again, and again, until you’re asleep.
Choice tracks: He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot; Underneath The Weeping Willow; Jed’s Other Poem (Beautiful Ground); So You’ll Aim Toward The Sky
If you like: Radiohead; the Flaming Lips; Sparklehorse