Alternative | Rap Rock
Here it is folks, my final full 2020 album review on Medium, before delving into Last Minute Reviews Week, and then my end of 2020 lists. But I felt that a fitting way to conclude a year in which I have enjoyed music from many artists that I had previously not properly listened to, would be to give grandson a shot, on his debut album, Death Of An Optimist.
And despite this being the first studio album from the musical project of American-Canadian singer-songwriter Jordan Edward Benjamin, I have been aware of grandson for a while now. In fact, my first exposure to his vocal style at least, would be via his feature on Mike Shinoda’s 2018 track “Running From My Shadow”. Upon looking into grandson’s discography further, I also gathered that his weapon of choice had been EP’s for the last few years. But as shown by my decision to give grandson a critical listen with his first album, it can be safe to say that Death Of An Optimist has garnered considerably more attention.
I realised how much the aforementioned “Running From My Shadow” complimented both Mike Shinoda and grandson’s musical styles, upon discovering the sinister, gritty, and moody aesthetic on Death Of An Optimist. From the very get-go, this album did well to reflect the inner anxieties and frustrations that many must be feeling towards how the year of 2020 has gone down, and how it has intertwined with the growing realisation of the injustice in today’s political climate. grandson covers none of these subjects too blatantly, but this only strengthened the overall aesthetic even more in my opinion, and made Death Of An Optimist an effortlessly relatable album, as opposed to a preachy one.
Stylistically, for those who are unfamiliar with grandson’s musical style, I feel that it definitely one of the finer examples of the kind of current rock-rap aesthetic that artists such as Twenty One Pilots are best known for. But unlike that example, grandson makes sure that his music still packs the musical heaviness to justify his gloomy subject matter.
Although, there is definitely something to be said about the truth behind grandson’s words, that allows this album to be a rallying cry for not only the COVID generation, but all youth that has been faced with injustice one way or another. And this sets me up with the belief that in a festival environment, a live performance of this album would go down a storm.
And despite my belief that this album is far less repetitive than the likes of Twenty One Pilots for example, that isn’t to say that this album is exempt from repetitive moments. While the aesthetic and mood of this album is absolutely top notch, there are tracks on this thing that are clearly better than others, under the umbrella of Death Of An Optimist.
And in my mind, the most glaring factor of the less enjoyable track was indeed the repetitive nature. It made those track the kind of ones that seem solid on the first listen, but ultimately lose impact very quickly. This actually led me to only keep six of the twelve tracks that come under this album. And indeed, hardly any track on this thing is fundamentally bad, but it seemed that for those tracks, the album’s aesthetic was carrying most of their weight.
But returning to the positives, the best of what’s to be heard on Death Of An Optimist is absolutely everything they needed to be in order to give the album the sense of impact that it needed.
Overall, I can say that I have penultimately concluded the musical year of 2020 on a positive note, thanks to this more-than-solid debut album. The strength of Death Of An Optimist’s aesthetic, truly spells promise for albums to come.
Favourite Tracks: In Over My Head | We Did It!!! | Riptide
Least Favourite Track: Drop Dead
Fueled By Ramen | Elektra Records LLC