Album Review: grandson – Death Of An Optimist

Harry Linley reviews the the debut album from alt-rocker grandson.

Harry Linley
16th December 2020
Death Of An Optimist is the debut album by the multi-talented solo artist Jordan Edward Benjamin, known as grandson. 2020 was not exactly a year in which optimism flourished;  grandson perfectly captures this sentiment, providing an honest reaction to a world where social, political and environmental events previously thought impossible are fast becoming the norm.

The album tracks grandson and his alter-ego X’s 'coming of age' through a mixture of very catchy hooks, occasionally cringe lyrics and drops after gun cocking sounds. Death Of An Optimist is Generation Z’s rebranding of American Idiot by Green Day. Antagonist X replaces St. Jimmy and Donald J. Trump succeeds George W. Bush as the international definition of an idiotic American. New Jersey-born grandson is losing hope for his homeland, from which the American Dream “got deported”. Put most simply in 'Left Behind', being American? “it’s getting embarrassing”.

grandson lists some influences for the album as; Amy Winehouse, Outkast, Nirvana, Marilyn Mason and Eminem. These he impressively blends to create an iconic 2020 sound: angst rock, with rap and an electronic bass. Aptly described by Kerrang as the “natural evolutionary reaction to a post-twenty one pilots world”, grandson's style, though rough-around-the-edges and badass live, can otherwise sound a little tame.

The track 'We Did It!!!' is about achievement in completing the bare minimum. A sarcastic look at a society in which grandson sees people thinking they are revolutionary for posting a "black square on Instagram”. The album is deeply political and dystopian yet never truly nihilistic. grandson preserves hope in his message for change, although he does question if anyone is actually listening.


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