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Grandaddy

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Grandaddy singer Jason Lytle’s voice lets you know he’s the spiritual son of Neil Young, as does the piano; so I guess the lyrics, which are all about the victory of nature over technology, make this concept album his answer to Trans (although a more likely progenitor is—hang onto your bong, dude—the Alan Parsons Project’s I Robot). Elegiac in tone, Sophtware Slump wraps you in a blanket of melancholy undercut by a wry humor that lets you know that Grandaddy isn’t too strident. “Broken Household Appliance National Forest,” for instance, paints a picture of animals living in perfect harmony with man’s detritus (“A family of deer were happy that/The clearing looked like a laundry mat”); “Jed the Humanoid” mourns the passing of a robot done in by an unlocked liquor cabinet. But the yearning for something far away is real enough, and behind every laugh there’s real heartbreak. (“I try to sing it funny like Beck,” says Jed. “But it’s bringing me down/Lower than ground.”) We no more belong here, Lytle seems to be saying, than the busted appliances or poor Jed the Humanoid, and we all “Dream at night/Of going home someday/Somewhere so far away.” Musical highlights abound, but my own faves are the haunting “He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot” and “So You’ll Aim Toward the Sky,” which begins with astronauts talking in space and ends up sounding like Neil Young performing Elton John’s “Somebody Saved My Life Tonight.” That’s genius, folks. —Michael Little