Grandaddy pose a strange ontological puzzle, somehow invoking comparisons to everything and nothing at the same time. To dub them slacker pop means missing the rarefied complexity of the band’s sonic arrangements and their supremely accessible sound. To throw them into the standard rock category or one of its subdivisions is to ignore their quirkiness, namely the process of picking and choosing songwriting elements from across the musical spectrum. I suppose they would have been at home in the Elephant 6 collective not so long ago, whereas today they’re left to fend for themselves in a brutal post-grunge world full of jaded alt-rap-metal listeners.
Sumday, the Modesto, California band’s fourth full-length, showcases Grandaddy’s mellowest, most cohesive material to date. Some might lament the absence of odd, love-’em-or-hate-’em musical tangents of Concrete Dunes (2002) and the air of electronic experimentation from Sophtware Slump (2000), but chances are that the tracks that received this treatment were reserved for the B-sides and EPs to preserve the sublime integrity and unabashedly pop approach of the album. Each song segues seamlessly into the next, dreaming and meandering like The Radar Brothers’ sadly overlooked 2002 album And the Surrounding Mountains — although this makes it difficult to select standouts. Like the band itself, perhaps it’s best not to get mired in the analytical details, rather to accept and enjoy the grand, sweeping whole just as it is.
In the long run, Sumday will probably not spawn the single that would break the band into a hungry mainstream, but it has all the characteristics of an under-recognized cult favorite, the sort of album that makes instant friends of strangers who happen to share an affinity for it. No matter what its fate, it positively aches to be heard.