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Grandaddy - The Broken Down Comforter Collection (V2)

This is not strictly a new album, as it's a collection of songs already released as two rare EPs "A pretty mess by this one band" and "Machines are not she". This stuff is the lowest of fi. Carefully craftless; obscure; lyrically fractured. From the same general planet as Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips before the call of pop became too strong. It even features the nouveau-Neil Young sounding singing voice oft commented upon of late, and beloved of American alternative bands.

If there's any indication of a youth that's lost its way, it is lo-fi music. Say what you want about satanic-goth-metal, but at least it's got an ethos. Lo-fi is nihilistic, apathetic and could easily be beaten in a fight. IF music is for moods, I'm not sure what mood Grandaddy is for. You can't really dance to it, (unless you're drunk, stoned or disoriented by being allowed outdoors).

It doesn't so much deconstruct rock-and-roll as waste its batteries; and god forbid that it try to offer any answers or recount some universal situations. Lyrically, it offers snapshots of a confused life, but it never tries to make sense of its own observations: "Ride your bike till dawn, and keep your lantern on, computers on the sun, not with power on. All alone and no-one's won," sings Jason Lytle on 'For the Dishwasher', which takes some cheek really. There are occasional snippets of wonderful melody ('Wretched Songs', the aforementioned 'For the Dishwasher'), that seem pleasantly effortless. But there are also sporadic lapses in quality that confirm this ('Sikh in a Baja VW Bug', and 'Levitz'). Ultimately "the Broken Down Comforter Collection" is like a novel without an authoritative voice, a lecture given by a mental patient, a meal prepared by a four year old: diverting, but not very satisfying.

Maybe as professional production techniques become more and more accessible and music production becomes more and more homogenised, then lo-fi bands will be seen in retrospect as prophetically revolutionary, and lo-fi stylings will signal the ultimate act of defiance. With Grandaddy, however, all the attitude and cool won't shake the suspicion that they're just sloppy. Clangy guitars, buzzing synthesisers, lyrical cubism, and a monkey at the control desk. Just what you'd expect from men too lazy to shave.

by Patrick Freyne