Grandaddy - The Sohptware Slump
20th anniversary vinyl reissue boxset of Grandaddy's The Sophtware Slump featuring rarities and new solo piano and voice recordings.
Many things have changed since Grandaddy issued “The Sophtware Slump” in May 2000. Back then, Grandaddy felt on the cusp of something: A band of underdogs pushing to reach for the sky from their modest existence in Modesto, Calif., a place like many other American towns and cities filled with those nurtured by its stasis and those seeking escape by any means. For Grandaddy – the rockers being Burtch, Dryden, Fairchild, Garcia, Lytle -- escape came in the form of these songs envisioned by Lytle, a magpie drawn to some shiny objects, but also others with less luster, like a seemingly antiquated keyboard.
“Under the Western Freeway,” released in 1997, served as a trailhead with songs about solitude and communication as well as the eeriness of a meritocracy. “The Sophtware Slump” was a wide-angle progression with basement symphonics making for songs that somehow split the difference between meticulous and scruffy. But lyrically and thematically Lytle also took a big step with “The Sophtware Slump,” hinting at some of the cultural tangles the rest of us wouldn’t identify until years later. In an age of unprecedented connectivity, his songs spoke to significant solitude. As technology arced ever upward, he saw built-in obsolescence, as though he popped the lid off of next year’s model and found its expiration date.
He saw lovely vistas pocked by tire fragments, lush forests adapting to abandoned appliances and a lot of people disinterested in trying to make sense of it. The imagery was sad and funny, so the songs were, too.
Then, as now, Lytle was drawn to what he calls “the confusion and uncertainty of where we’re headed.” The contrast between anxiety and tension and pastoral serenity set up little twisting tempests. The songs on “The Sophtware Slump” weren’t prescient as much as they were attuned to cultural trends just starting to take shape.
This newly recorded “The Sophtware Slump” does just that. The songs’ skeletons are the same, but the bones dance differently. Slower songs like “Undearneath the Weeping Willow” make a natural transition to this sparer presentation. Greater revelations occur with the once louder songs like “The Crystal Lake” and “Chartsengrafs.” The effect at times is that of unfolding an origami dinosaur and refashioning it into a swan. The album’s sharp melodic sense isn’t dampened at all, but the words step forward, which only enhances the aspirational lift at album’s end, about aiming toward the sky.