grandson: death of an optimist

Photo Credit to Article by Stephanie Escobar

Jordan Benjamin who goes by the pseudonym Grandson is a Canadian/ American alternative artist. He started to release music in 2016, and since then he’s known to put out politically charged songs like his 2017 hit “Blood//Water”. Signed with Fueled by Ramen, he gone to create an impressive body of work, and having close to seven million listeners on Spotify. He combines elements of rock and roll, hip-hop, and electronic music to tell stories of reclaiming the power of one’s life. Grandson has garnered an impressive fanbase or as known as his ‘grandkids’ and has empowered a generation to fight for what is right.

Since releasing his Modern Tragedy EP series he opened up about confronting social issues, addiction, and mental health. In continuation of speaking on important issues, Grandon ties his vision and art in his debut album Death of an Optimist. The perfect soundtrack for everything going on in the world.

This ambitious project is a twelve-track body of work that dwells on personal anxieties with the addition of political realities. Grandson, explore his own self as being the protagonist as he holds on to hope and shares the many reasons to have optimism. Yet, he juxtaposes this reality to providing an antagonist of the story, who he names, “X”. This duality is present throughout all the tracks as Grandson presents an issue that has to be solved and offers different perspectives to it.

“It’s sort of a modern interpretation of a central conflict. It’s about holding on to hope as you grow up. I’m part of a generation where there’s a lot of expectation on us to find answers to urgent problems in society. There are so many reasons to find optimism and at the same time to feel cynical or pathetic, particularly this year.” - Grandson told American Songwriter

The duality of optimism being mixed with reality and questioning the nature of issues are present in the song “Identity.” Grandson sings “Nobody really cared, so it never really mattered/ It never really mattered, so it never really happened/ What's the point in fighting for a happy ever after?/ The past keeps haunting the future, I imagine.” He lays out through the song the problem that needs to be solved but through the verses, he touches on the concern for defeat.

The storytelling was amplified with characteristics of Linkin Park as Mike Shinoda collaborated on the album to co-produce “Dirty”, “We Did It”, which gives us some Skrillex vibes and “Riptide.” In “Riptide” we see a bigger exploration into the antagonist “X.” It opens another perspective into the state of the world as someone who is also conflicted within themselves trying to find their own place in this world. Grandson shared with American Songwriter that the goal with “Riptide” was to offer to understand, instead of demonizing people who make wrong decisions. The character (“X”) gave him the opportunity to show compassion to those who make wrong decisions. “I showed my experience and why I did those things from a hurt place,” he told American Songwriter.

In “Drop Dead” is one of the albums’ more upbeat songs as it presents a more optimistic sound taking us back to late 90’s pop-punk. It took me back to listening to Weezer as it shares a melodic grunge sound. This track offers a more hopeful reality as he sings “rather drop dead than be a quitter” throughout the chorus of the song.

Grandson continues to do his own thing as he shows it clears that there are no rules in music. Creating his own styles to create vulnerability and not just share his own story but share the stories and amplify voices. He pushes his music just as much as he pushes his project XX Resistance Fund to help those at the forefront of today’s conflicts.

Death of an Optimist gets heavy and dark throughout all the tracks using rap and rock to create addictive verses. Yet, it offers a beacon of hope as Grandson encourages everyone to participate in fighting for action. Optimism has no fighting without participating, seeking information, and voting.

Listen to Death of an Optimist here.

Grandson announced a streaming concert to celebrate the release of Death of an Optimist on December 17th. It will feature a performance of the new record along with behind the scene footage. For ticket info, check here.

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