Department of Disappearance Image
Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics What's this?

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8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 5 Ratings

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  • Summary: The latest solo album for the former frontman of Grandaddy was recorded at his home studio in Montana.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. Oct 15, 2012
    80
    Dept. of Disappearance shows that far from vanishing, Lytle is making a claim to be one of the more interesting and consistent singer/songwriters around; willing to take sonic chances, but always delivering music that's as much about feel as it is about meaning.
  2. Oct 16, 2012
    80
    On Disappearance, Lytle yet again hits that perfect balance of gentle storytelling and hard, dark emotion.
  3. 80
    It's a gently moving meditation on the effects of solitude and nature on the soul, set to Lytle's characteristic blend of chugging guitar grooves aerated by bubbling synths and soothed by high harmonies.
  4. Oct 19, 2012
    70
    Dept. of Disappearance, Lytle's second proper solo album since the 2006 dissolution of Grandaddy, follows directly in the same vein of his earlier work, where the edges were rarely sharp around warm and welcoming melodic vehicles.
  5. Oct 30, 2012
    60
    Jason Lytle's solo excursions express a bewildering mix of emotions. Dept. of Disappearance, his sophomore set, muddies the waters as much as before.
  6. Oct 18, 2012
    60
    Department of Disappearance won't surprise or disappoint anyone who loves its 2009 predecessor Yours, Truly, The Commuter. [Nov 2012, p.86]
  7. Oct 16, 2012
    58
    On the whole, however, the album is even-tempered where it should be adventurous, mild when there should be marvelous.

See all 19 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Oct 20, 2012
    10
    Another beautiful album from Jason. Quirky, sweet and unique. Mixing folk, rock and electronics to create a music that is different fromAnother beautiful album from Jason. Quirky, sweet and unique. Mixing folk, rock and electronics to create a music that is different from anything being done today and is honest and original. Expand
  2. Feb 10, 2013
    9
    Years ago, as the music writer for an insignificant regional newspaper, a copy of a CD called Sumday arrived in the mail. Knowing little ofYears ago, as the music writer for an insignificant regional newspaper, a copy of a CD called Sumday arrived in the mail. Knowing little of the band Grandaddy (virtually unknown in the far-flung regions of Australia), I mentally filed it under 'indie beard folk' and threw it on a growing pile of sample products to be absorbed at a later date.

    Months, if not years later, Sumday was finally given the chance of an audition. As I recall, it was late one Monday night, after too many drinks, but despite my damaged faculties it made an impact. Sumday soon provided a path to The Sophtware Slump, and despite my long standing preference for metal over all other genre, it proved to be one of those rare life-changing episodes. By now, I'd read a little about Grandaddy, including comparisons on Metacritic to Radiohead's 1997 effort, which had already gained its dubious sacred cow status.

    Radiohead is an easy band to admire; but they write songs that are hard to love, even like. I gave OK Computer a 10/10 rating on release, yet I'll confess to not listening to the album in its entirety for years. I played Kid A last week, trying to rationalise in my own mind why Radiohead have achieved mythical status, yet Grandaddy are forgotten. I can't.

    One of my greatest regrets is not discovering The Sophtware Slump on release. When I eventually did, it became an obsession. I played it on repeat for months. I lived it; I made love to it; eventually, I sought solace for my broken heart with it. Few other works of contemporary art have made a similar impact The Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin did. Experiencing Van Gogh's Starry Night did. Not much else has come close.

    The Sophtware Slump is flawed, there's no disagreement here. Like the creations of many driven individuals, Jason Lytle doesn't know when to stop. But in an ugly world, talent beyond the far reaches of genius commands respect, particularly when that creativity can bring a 49-year-old cynic to years with a few strokes of a keyboard.

    I bought Department of Disappearance last week. I had no great expectations Just Like the Fambly Cat was little more than a few cast-off ideas, and recent coverage on UTube seemed to confirm that Lytle's well-reported battle with drink and pills might have taken their toll. I've played the album five times. That's not enough yet it will take some late nights involving alcohol and opiates before I can really judge whether Lytle's bleak, yet life-affirming brand of self loathing is intact. My early guess is if The Sophtware Slump was Grandaddy's Dark Side of the Moon, this is Lytle's Wish You Were Here. And we all know which of those is the most popular nearly half a century later.
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  3. Oct 16, 2012
    8
    You can't really go wrong with anything Jason Lytle touches. Over 8+ albums ranging from B-sides to C-sides, from Admiral Radley to noneYou can't really go wrong with anything Jason Lytle touches. Over 8+ albums ranging from B-sides to C-sides, from Admiral Radley to none other than Grandaddy (possibly the most underrated/undiscovered greatest band of no time), he has possibly written fewer than 5 "bad" songs (F##$ked On Beer and Sunburn Kids among them). He's also written more than a few possibly "perfect" songs that possess harmonies and intricacies worthy of a modern day Beethoven. Not Radiohead or Sonic Youth wanneebees. Not "trying to sing it funny like Beck." Grandaddy quietly amalgamated a cult-like fan base that obsessively not just wanted, but even "needed" more of the post-futurist pathos that was just a bit warmer and fuzzier than Paranoid Android. Jed's systems weren't ever really dead, and I have to admit that Sophtware Slump finds its way back onto my playlist moreso than OK Computer. If only the chicken had come before the egg. So, you always know what you are going to get from Jason Lytle. Electronic blips and beeps teased with melodic distortions that seem beautifully accidental. And then the soft surfer dude (or skater dude) musings sung with Lytle's soft but resonating Californian folk twang. Just like NIN nails was always pretty much Trent Reznor stoned in front of a Mac book, Grandaddy was mostly Lytle drunk (and possibly stoned) in front of a beat-up synthesizer. The recipe tends to remain the same, but indeed the story evolves and changes.

    So while I "enjoyed" this album, and more than few songs will grow on me with more listens, at times I crave Lytle to do something radically different. Perhaps abandoning his typical arrangements and/or using an entirely different array of instruments. The best of Lytle's best is easily idenifiable when compared to his average/run-of-the-mill electro/acoustic songs about yearning. Perhaps something more like Live and Die in LA, Wives of Farmers, or Summer Here Kids to help spice things up and diversify. Much of this album is Lytle-light, and after a first listen you aren't quite sure which song to cling to most. At times campy (Get Up and Go) and at other times saccharine (Somewhere There's a Someone), the overall theme is definitely a bit Elliott Smith "should I do it," which is also a bit tragic and worrisome. All in all, it's a good album that Grandaddy loyalists will like. It's not Under the Western Freeway or even Signal to Snow Ratio, but it is a slight step above Yours Truly the Commuter. With Grandaddy reunion tours underway, one can only hope that they get back in the studio and record something new. While Lytle is, in essence, the heart and soul and genius of Grandaddy, one gets to think he could use some company after the singer-songwriter elements of this new album slightly exhaust themselves. Get up and go back to Modesto Mr. Lytle. You can do it.
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