Grandson (Jordan Edward Benjamin) already released three EPs on which his idiosyncratic style – rock and roll combined with hip hop and electronic music – became immediately apparent.
Collaborations have also appeared with many well-known artists, including K.Flay and X Ambassadors (“Zen”) and Oliver Tree (the remix of “Cash Machine”).
However, we were still waiting for a full album, but now it is finally here. On Death of an Optimist, grandson engages in self-reflection, takes a vulnerable position and shares his feelings with his fans, the grandkids.
A fat riff, a rough intermezzo or a rather mysterious guitar line, grandson shows us that he is worthy of all praise.
In every song you hear a rock element where you start headbanging, even if only slightly.
Moreover, the artist brings pleasant combinations, for example by mixing guitars with whistles and claps in “Left Behind” or by using trumpet sounds in “Dirty”.
These surprising mixes of music styles ensure that Death of an Optimist remains extremely fascinating.
We often cannot resist dancing, but it’s equally fascinating to listen carefully and learn more about what is going on in the man’s head.
Grandson also shows that he can rap a bit. Many songs show some influence from the hip-hop world; take, for example, “Pain Shopping,” in which he talks about his negative thoughts with the chorus that can be roared “All that I got is nothing, nothing, nothing”.
Death of an Optimist contains a lot of songs with such a sing-along quality, but behind the earwigs there are serious subjects. This is how “We Did It !!!” and “WWIII” about the recent US presidential election and the country’s political system.
The catchy melodies, however, ensure that these themes do not become convoluted and off putting, so we can continue to enjoy his word art and guitar violence.
grandson reveals himself completely on his debut, for example by questioning himself in the compelling “Identity”. With this he arouses pity and sympathy, but not in an exaggerated way.
His personal and accessible approach makes you feel connected to him as a listener.
His sentiments are often recognizable – with the escapism of “The Ballad of G and X” and closing track “Welcome to Paradise” everyone should be able to identify after disaster year 2020. Even also the deepest lows, in which the man cries for help and death, are not left out.
Grandson’s debut has been given a very appropriate title; the heavily sentimented lyrics don’t leave much room for positivity.
However, the Canadian-American musician strikes a good balance between dark thoughts and danceable tunes, which makes Death of an Optimist a surprisingly light-hearted record.
There is room for shadowy metaphors (“I’m pain shopping / Looking for the proof that I’m still alive”), solid riffs, tight hip hop passages, but above all a lot of honesty.
2020 was a tough year for everyone, but we are happy that the man was able to draw inspiration from it.