Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Like its music, Grandaddy's career never quite made it to full speed. Instead, it wandered—sometimes listlessly, often engrossingly—at a relaxed pace, occasionally stopping to sniff lovely little melodies, but mostly content to let the self-described "pretty mess by this one band" speak quietly for itself. Leader Jason Lytle, a former skateboarder, chose an odd time to announce the band's end: Months before the release of proper album number four, he put ol' Grandaddy in the dirt. So much for giving rock 'n' roll one last try.

It'd be fairytale-great if Just Like The Fambly Cat turned out to be a triumphant, all-cylinders clicker that inspired the universe to demand Grandaddy's resurrection, but it's actually just a logical step in a predictable (in a good way) pattern. The fuzzy, melancholy mood is established immediately on "What Happened…", which is built around minor-key piano and a sample of a young girl repeating "What happened to the fambly cat?" It's easy to assume this is Lytle's way of sonically exploring his band's dissolution, though it's the only indication that anything's amiss. In every other way, this is exactly a Grandaddy album, for better and worse.

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If ever a band begged for a greatest-hits collection, it's this one—strange, since Grandaddy albums are often marked with weird interludes and spaces that define their moods. But pack their best moments together—Fambly offers the weepy "Summer… It's Gone" and the bloopy, self-reflective "Elevate Myself" as candidates—and you'd have a stunner. But Fambly's flabbiest moments sag pretty low, to the point that the album's midsection is almost entirely skippable. Like Grandaddy's best songs, that's a little bit sad. Perhaps freedom from other voices will defibrillate Lytle's muse and reawaken his sleepy inspiration.

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