Its title taken from the vanity license plate on an oversized pickup truck and its abbreviated running time building expectations for the full-length release due out in early 2006, Grandaddy’s Excerpts from the Diary of Todd Zilla EP attempts to reconcile the often disparate elements that constituted the considerable charms of their previous releases. Vacillating between the electronic distortion and heavy synths of Sophtware Slump and Under the Western Freeway and the borderline-emo vocal work of Jason Lytle from the minimalist pop of Sumday, unfortunately, isn’t effective in reconciling those two styles, resulting in an EP characterized by an impossible degree of internal conflict for a set of songs clocking in at barely over half an hour. The songs that owe more to Sumday generally fare the best, with leadoff “Pull The Curtain” serving as an obvious choice for a college radio pop single. “At My Post,” with its time signature and key changes, sounds like a less twee offering from The Fiery Furnaces, and its intricately layered production keeps the song interesting for the entirety of its six-minute running time. Once Lytle moves onto the political broadside—the EP is his response to his growing dissatisfaction with living in Modesto, California, which, according to “Fuck The Valley Fudge,” has been overrun with strip malls—in the latter half of the EP, the production and vocals become far less pop-oriented (“Florida” sounds like the worst of nü-metal, and Lytle’s voice isn’t suited to it at all) in a way that isn’t as immediately inviting. It’s a collection of songs borne of frustration, and, while it’s to Lytle’s credit that he’s a sufficiently strong writer and producer to convey that frustration in song form, that overwhelming sense of frustration makes Excerpts more difficult to embrace than earlier Grandaddy releases. Which means that it’s still plenty likable, but it leaves hope that the proper album either finds a more comfortable middle-ground between Grandaddy’s two styles or that it simply picks one side to take.
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