Blu Wav by Grandaddy album review by Ethan Rebalkin for Northern Transmissions. The band's LP drops on January 16th via Dangerbird Records


Blu Wav


Grandaddy’s Blu Wav echos the earnest 90s songwriting of indie-contemporaries Sparklehorse, Yo La Tengo and Silver Jews, while successfully blending it with Americana and Psychedelic sonic-palettes of The Flying Burrito Brothers, and The Byrds on their 2024 album. Songs like “Cabin in My Mind”. and ‘Long as “I’m Not the One” serve as an early template for what you can expect sonically from the album

The album is riddled with padded and arpeggiated synths, waltzing piano, lush layers of Lytle’s Californian drawal, and pedal steel provided by Max Hart, who’s worked with artists such as The War On Drugs and Melissa Etheridge. Blu Wav feels like it could be listened to on a walk in a dense rainforest as much as it could be played at a highway truck-stop.

Thematically, Jason Lytle spares no time in exploring the contrast in technological symbolism and everyday beauty on the opening self-titled track of Blu Wav. “It’s a new day. Open your eyes and your laptop to the sunrise.” Similar ideas can be found on the album’s leading single “Watercooler”, that feels like a complicated love-affair between office-dwelling lovers. “Please wave to me on your way to the watercooler… And you cry in the bathroom stall,” is another example of Lytle’s ability to mesh conventional themes with modern day metaphor. The yearning of love and its unfortunate complications. These themes of love and heartache don’t end at “Watercooler”, in fact, a lot of Blu Wav wrestles with longing, heartache, and wonder. Songs like ‘On a Train or Bus,’ and ‘Jukebox App’ sit in the middle of the album tracklist and successfully deliver two more tales of heartbreak and rural wandering. “You and some dude knockin’ back the shots, while I’m out here in the parking lot,” Lytle sings on “Jukebox App”, sculpting a bleak scene of observing the moving-on of a past lover. Meanwhile, “On a Train or a Bus”, is a self-examination, and reliving of a past relationship that one experiences within their own solitude.

Prior to the bookending instrumental closer of “Blu Wav Buh Bye,” Grandaddy treats us to tales of lost friends, and more self-isolation. ‘Ducky, Boris, and Dart’ tells the story of three real life animal friends that Lytle made and subsequently lost. On paper the song is perhaps the saddest story of the whole record but Lytle is able to present it in such a way that feels wholesome and approachable. While “Ducky, Boris and Dart” deals with the hangups of lost companions, “East Yosemite” tells the tale of self isolation and a withdrawal from society to a place “where I can’t text or accept any calls.” The idea of removing oneself from the overwhelming reality of humanity is one that I think most could relate to. A fleeting desire that Grandaddy does an
excellent job of displaying through this track.

Grandaddy’s sixth album Blu Wav feels as distinct, and unique to Grandaddy as it does familiar, and unified to traditional country, 70’s psych, and ever-faithful indie-rock. Soaring with undeniable character, ear-perking waves of synth and pedal steel , and unapologetic nods to Americana symbolism, Blu Wav acts as a delightful sixth installment into Grandaddy’s catalog.

Pre-order Blue Wav by Grandaddy HERE


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