When Jason Lytle broke up his band, Grandaddy, in 2006 he wanted to get away from music, California, and more. But he couldn’t stay away for long and, in 2009, he gave us the beautiful album, Yours Truly, The Commuter which actually landed on the top spot of my 2009 year-end list. Since then, he’s collaborated with members of Earlimart on Admiral Radley, briefly reunited with Grandaddy earlier this year, and now has delivered another beautiful solo album, Dept. Of Disappearance.
Opening with cassette tape test tones from the 80’s the title cut sounds right at home with Lytle’s earlier work. The synths wash, guitars crunch in with the rhythm section, and the soft-sung vocals flow atop the mix with lyrics that blend paranoia, aggression, and mystery. His grasp of melody and densely layered harmonies is instantly on show here and throughout the record.
The album continues to spin tales of offbeat lives, situations, and worlds. Some are sad (“Somewhere There’s A Someone”), others inspirational (“Get Up And Go”), and some are beyond words (“Last Problem Of The Alps”). “Willow Wand Willow Wand” is infectious and beautiful as it spins a story of an estranged lover looking for forgiveness and the road home. That leads into the aforementioned graceful and haunting, “Somewhere There’s A Someone”. If you’re not a lyrics person, you might simply find this section of the album to be mellow and pretty. If you dig into the words, like myself, you’ll find it to be heartrendingly vivid.
Lytle’s sound is consistent and the songs hang together as a whole in a way that so many artists cannot quite muster. The closer, “Gimme Click Gimme Grid”, soars from a quiet space straight out into the ether and back again in its eight-minute arc, forming a tidy microcosm of the entire record. With that in mind, I wholeheartedly recommend this for straight-through sit-down listening sessions.