Just Like the Fambly Cat is Grandaddy’s fifth album in ten years. It is also their final album. Despite being on a major label for their last three releases, getting to tour with Pete Yorn, and having a song in a Honda commercial, (Nature Anthem, “I wanna walk up the side of the mountain.”), Grandaddy just can’t pay the bills. It must be pretty depressing to be in a critically acclaimed rock band, get four star reviews from everyone, and then come home from tour totally broke and unable to pay your rent.
So Grandaddy has called it quits and Just Like the Fambly Cat reveals the pathos of a rock band breaking up. The sweet and sad sample of a little girl asking the question, “What happened to the family cat?“ on the opening track seems to say it all. Where did we go wrong? How can Modest Mouse sell a million and we have to work stupid construction jobs when we get back from tour? “Elevate Myself” expresses disillusionment with the music industry and the loss of ambition to write the perfect pop song and be the biggest band in the world: “I don’t want to work all night and day on writing songs that make the young girls cry.” Ironically, “Elevate Myself” sounds like the perfect radio song that Grandaddy’s been shooting for. But the album ends with the disillusioned resolution, “I’ll never return…”
What is so sad about this being the last Grandaddy album is that it is their best. Just Like the Fambly Cat is on another level than the psychedelic pop being made by the Flaming Lips or the Dandy Warhols. You will still find all of the ELO-inspired synth swirls (space out to “Rearview Mirror“), crunching Cars-esque rhythm guitars (that the Strokes wish they could capture) and the quiet, innocent vocals that define the Grandaddy sound. But what really makes Just Like the Fambly Cat stand out is that it rocks. “Jeez Louise” uses some loud guitars and dissonance to create a psychedelic sound that is actually pretty heavy. The hardcore punk of “50%” is exactly what previous Grandaddy albums have needed to spice things up.
So Grandaddy has saved their best album for last. There is hope, though, that we‘ll be able to hear the Nature Anthem sound again. The magic of the Grandaddy sound was created by one man: Jason Lytle (Jason played all the instruments on Just Like the Fambly Cat except the drums). How can a band break up when it’s basically one dude?
Jason Lytle of Grandaddy getting his nature on.
You can stream “Jeez Louise” and “Rearview Mirror” from Grandaddy’s official site.