Just Like the Fambly Cat

Studio Album by released in 2006
Just Like the Fambly Cat's tracklist:
What Happened...?
Jeez Louise
Summer... It's Gone
Oxygen/Aux Send
Rear View Mirror
The Animal World
Skateboarding Saves Me Twice
Where I'm Anymore
50%
Guide Down Denied
Elevate Myself
Campershell Dreams
Disconnecty
This Is How It Always Starts
Shangri-La (outro)

Just Like the Fambly Cat review

Just Like The Fambly Cat is Grandaddy’s last offering

Solar-powered space-pop combo Grandaddy was formed in Modesto, CA, in 1992 by singer/guitarist/keyboardist Jason Lytle, bassist Kevin Garcia, and drummer Aaron Burtch; although a noisy, lo-fi approach characterized early recordings like 1994's Complex Party Come Along Theories, with the 1995 additions of guitarist Jim Fairchild and keyboardist Tim Dryden the group's sound expanded exponentially over the course of subsequent efforts. Grandaddy have been delighting us for many a year with their unique take on synth-rock, but Just Like The Fambly Cat is their last offering after the announcement late last year that they were splitting. The question is, is this album a fitting swansong to their impressive run? The answer of course is a resounding yes. Just Like The Fambly Cat is a captivating record, taking on more layers and levels with every track and with every listen. Over the space of fourteen tracks, the band cover twitchy ambience, thrashy punk and big fun rock, in some cases, utilizing all of these in just one song. The best Grandaddy record thus far, Just Like The Fambly pounces upon teary piano bridges, epic electronic washes, Sumday-style narratives, dissonant guitar-driven rockers, and six-plus minute prog-pop opuses.

The diversity of sounds on the album is nice and keeps things interesting

After the infuriating piano and spoken word sample opener, Jeez Louise comes barreling out the gate with a badass ruckus of layered guitar distortion, before settling down into one of the band’s most immediately infectious melodies. Certainly Jeez Louise dispels any fear that the record might be as laid-back and detached as 2003’s Sumday was at its core. So do the handful of similarly energetic tunes like the new wavey instrumental Skateboarding Saves Me Twice, the drum machine-driven Elevate Myself, and the surging Disconnecty. The diversity of sounds on the album is nice and keeps things interesting on the surface, but what really jump-starts the proceedings are two things: first, the sheer tunefulness of the midtempo songs like the wistful Summer... It's Gone, Campershell Dreams, and This Is How It Always Starts, which drift like autumn leaves blowing across front lawns, blown gently along by gentle vocal harmonies, richly layered guitars, cheap keyboards, and Jason Lytle's fragile vocals; and second, the epic sweep of the ballads like Guide Down Denied, the guitar blowout Rear View Mirror, and The Animal World. Just Like The Fambly Cat is a very personal record. It is the sound of a band coming to terms with the fact that they’ve given it all they can, and now it’s time to walk away into an uncertain future.

It's like a Greatest Hits made up entirely of brand new songs

Grandaddy's final album serves as a timely reminder of the group's strengths. There is a depth of emotion and seriousness here that had been missing on Sumday, Lytle's vocals have a gravity they lacked before, and the band members seem to mean every note they play this time. Not that sincerity means much when there are no melodies you can hum in the shower – here you get both. Spacey atmospherics, equal parts guitar and synth, and perfect pop songs seamlessly congeal into a potent distillation of the Grandaddy sound. Wonderfully ambitious, endlessly melodic, and surprisingly all encompassing, it's like a Greatest Hits made up entirely of brand new songs. And for a record of its length, Just Like The Fambly Cat holds together remarkably well – there isn’t really a weak track in the bunch. Jeez Louise, Rear View Mirror and the surprisingly rocking 50 Percent rank among the band's best songs. Hopefully whatever incarnation the various members (and especially Lytle) resurface in can produce work this rich and powerful. If not, at least Grandaddy managed to go out on a very high note.

(15.05.2006)
Rate review4.33
Total votes - 6


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