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Rhythm & Views

Grandaddy

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They certainly went gently into that good night. With the release of their final album, Just Like the Fambly Cat, Grandaddy, a modest electro-rock outfit from Modesto, Calif., are (sadly) no more. As the band's longest and most musically diverse album to date, it's the perfect synthesis of Grandaddy's career: thrilling, sloppy, funny, tragic, carefree and strangely optimistic. Although far from their finest album, it contains some of the group's finest moments.

Masters of suburban pastoral anthems, Grandaddy deliver another lush affair with the chirping, woodsy "The Animal World" and the campfire epic "Summer ... It's Gone." Yet, it's the driving grind of "Jeez Louise" and the fuzzy keys and guitar crunch of "Rear View Mirror" that prove the band's better moments may also be its louder ones.

For a band that's arguably recorded variations of the same tunes and themes over the course of 14 years, Grandaddy managed to remain engaging. Now, with their swan song, Jason Lytle's cooing chants about disappearing or vanquished dreams have a real-life sting. This renders even the meandering, bluesy "Where I'm Anymore" (with its meowing chorus) and the silly, keyboard sock-hop-cum-gospel "Elevate Myself" ("I don't want to work all night and day writing songs that make the young girls cry") surprisingly poignant.

Although the plaintive and overlong "Guide Down Denied" and the static (in every way) "This Is How It Always Starts" are for diehards only, you have to admire Grandaddy for--like an ailing feline--bowing out with quiet dignity.

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