Sincerely, Bagman is Grandparents’ long anticipated first full-length album after a quiet few years, since the release of Fumes. Earlier this year they teased fans with a cassingle release of “Kids in the Alley,” and now with the full-length out, it’s easy to see that Kids in the Alley was such a small taste of the gem that is Sincerely, Bagman.

This album feels like diving headfirst into a fever, a delirious trip into an authentic version of the past. Even though Fumes was a psych-pop dream come true, Sincerely, Bagman takes it all a step beyond that. Above all else, this newest release is an exploration of sound, a search for the unexpected, and what they discovered was magic.

The album starts with “YYOOUU”, a song that deftly sums up the tone of everything to follow. It’s reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, a strange carnival of sound. “YYOOUU” features every great thing about a Grandparents song: subtle tempo changes, soaring vocal harmonies, hard-to-define effects, and above all else, extremely catchy hooks. It’s a definite bright spot on the album, drawing the listener in from the start.

 

An easy to pick favorite from the album is “Kids in the Alley”. This song was the single they released earlier this year, so Grandparents fans are already familiar with it, but if you’ve somehow missed it, familiarize yourself with it as soon as possible. Easily the most pop-focused song on the album, Grandparents have managed to meld all the best parts of their psych sound into a perfectly structured pop song. This is the kind of song you’re happy to have stuck in your head.

What is great about Sincerely, Bagman is the evolutionary nature of the tunes — many songs appear to be one thing and transform into another. The most attention-grabbing example of this is “All the Way”. The first few seconds are an eerie departure from the light-hearted tone of everything else on the album. The vocals initially seem like the siren-song in a terrifying hallucination, bleeding into a droning synth. Similar to “YYOOUU”, this song calls to mind a house of mirrors — the further you get into it the harder it is to remember how it started. Somewhere along the way the song transforms into the 60s daydream you expect from a Grandparents song, transporting the listener seamlessly through their sonic narrative. It is this ability to adapt, blend, and transform that makes Grandparents’ Sincerely, Bagman such a refreshing sound in the Portland psych scene.

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