Jason Lytle - Dept. Of Disappearance

Former Grandaddy frontman’s latest solo record is a veritable joy to the earholes.

Label: Epitaph

Rating: 8

Let’s get this straight from the outset: once you have written and released an album like ‘The Sophtware Slump’, you should be set up for life, surrounded by snivelling flunkies who bring you all the drugs and hookers your heart desires, and fawn over your every fart as though Beethoven himself had orchestrated it. Any follow up or solo records should take years to arrive, and have a clear ‘material excess damaging musical genius’ theme. How that one record hasn’t given Jason Lytle a licence to print money is, frankly, one of the main reasons that we know that the music industry has gone to hell.

His loss is definitely our gain though, because were he sleeping on a mattress made of cash, the chances are we wouldn’t be clutching an album as beautifully heartbroken as ‘Dept. Of Disappearance’ in our greedy mitts, and that would be a great shame indeed. Filled with lush yet broken soundscapes and those fragile vocals that characterise all of Lytle’s output, Grandaddy and beyond, the only argument that you could weigh against this latest offering would be that it’s more of the same. But when ‘the same’ is the soundtrack to the most categorically smashed up heart you could ever imagine, well, that’s more than fine, thanks.

Opening with title track ‘Dept. Of Disappearance’, it’s clear from the outset that the blips and swirls of broken synths pitted against slacker guitars are very much still the order of the day. As ever, there’s a sonic depth here that most artists could only dream of attaining, he works melodic light and shade beautifully; perhaps never more so than on ‘Hangtown’, which is a veritable swoonfest. It’s been said that Lytle’s intention was to create a ‘the soundtrack to a non-existent cinematic masterpiece’, and whilst the epic landscapes worked throughout the album confirms that he’s definitely achieved that aim, if tracks like ‘Last Problem Of The Alps’ and ‘Chopin Drives To The Dump’ are anything to go by, it’s one fucked up imaginary film.

That being said, it’s definitely a movie that you’d pay to go see. Granted, it’s a tear jerker; you’ll absolutely need to be packing the Kleenex, but what else would you expect from a man who once created ‘So You’ll Aim Toward The Sky’? No less than ‘Dept. Of Disappearance’, no less than this indeed.