Review: Jason Lytle – Dept. of Disappearance
Published on November 12th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
The opener and title track of Jason Lytle’s solo album incorporates so much of what made Grandaddy so great – fuzzily chugging guitar chords, sweet airy vocals, lovely cartoony synths and bright, swelling production – in one glorious flourish of utterly, utterly dreamy pop. It’s so gorgeous that the repeated refrain of “You’ll never get away with this / You’ll never get a clearance” registers almost as a threat from some Doctor Claw-esque villain dead set on depriving the world from such soul-enriching goodness; sadly, in this imagined scenario, the bad guy gets his way. At least in part.
Dept. of Disappearance hardly turns horrible from then on in, but the ambition becomes marginalised, channelled into creating majestic soundscapes at the cost of interesting songwriting. It’s consummately constructed, grand, sweeping, ELO-informed pop, all plus points in Rocksucker’s book, but it feels like an opportunity missed to make a real statement. As it is, North Atlantic Oscillation’s Fog Electric album of earlier this year does this kind of thing better, with more unexpected twists.
Lytle is sufficiently skilled in the art of dream-pop to conjure his share of memorable moments – “Matterhorn” is perhaps the closest he’s come to sounding like Sigur Ros, while the heady mixes are regularly plied with Olivia Tremor Control-esque harmonies – but for all the little electronic flourishes hither and thither, Dept. of Disappearance could be idly summarised as one long version of The Sophtware Slump closer “So You’ll Aim Toward the Sky”, so much so that the occasional dissonance of “Your Final Setting Sun” comes as something of a relief. As for “Last Problem of the Alps”…well, it threatens to be to “Hallelujah” what The Flaming Lips’s “Fight Test” is to “Father and Son”.
There’s no shortage of good things to say about Dept. of Disappearance, but if its internal structure was approached with the same imagination and sense of colour evident in the production then it could have been something special. As it is, it just makes Rocksucker want to listen to Under the Western Freeway, although we accept that its subtler elements may yield more rewarding listens in the future.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
Dept. of Disappearance is out now on Epitaph. For more information, please visit jasonlytle.com