Few mainstream rock songs capture the turmoil of life under late capitalism as vividly and viscerally as “Blood // Water,” the 2017 breakthrough single from Jordan Benjamin, the singer/songwriter and genre-hopping synthesist known as grandson. Over the course of three-and-a-half tumultuous minutes, the track bounds from the coffeehouse to the mosh pit to the festival dance tent, as Benjamin rages against unchecked corporate greed and its environmental cost. For the Toronto-bred musician (born in 1993 in New Jersey), speaking out is an artist’s most sacred duty; as he told Apple Music, “Art is always the first smoke to point to some sort of fire that’s happening societally.” A “Blood // Water” remix by Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello confirmed grandson’s arrival as alt-rock’s feistiest agitator, one who can incisively dissect social maladies through both a macro and micro lens: Where 2018 single “Thoughts and Prayers” chastises the inert political response to America’s gun-violence epidemic, 2019’s “Darkside” addresses the same issue from the perspective of a bullied teen driven to shoot up his school. The sonic ambition displayed on grandson’s early EPs—a riotous mix of industrial-strength grunge, ticking time-bomb rap beats, and EDM hysteria—flourished on his 2020 full-length debut, Death of an Optimist, a two-part concept album featuring collaborations with Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and blink-182’s Travis Barker. By framing the turbulent state of the world as a tug-of-war between the hopeful and pessimistic sides of grandson’s psyche, the record reaffirms that the personal is political—and vice versa.