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The Lead Review

We Got This: Let’s Eat Grandma’s I’m All Ears
Anna Cafolla , June 28th, 2018 07:28

Walton and Hollingworth’s second album is a richly chaotic collection of warped weirdo pop

We’ve crash-landed into Cancer season - a time for ocean-deep creativity and acute emotion, after a ravaging Gemini solar cycle of nose-skimming curiosity and wild energy. Wading out of this astrological cusp comes Let’s Eat Grandma’s I’m All Ears. The digital-painting artwork for the Norwich duo’s second album, by artist and illustrator Yanjun Cheng, features Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth’s faces side-by-side, looking in different directions, diverging in an amethyst jelly. Like the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux, they’re of one, but dynamically mutant, swirling in the sonic petri dish of this adventurous album.

I’m All Ears realises and experiments with the warped weirdo pop ideals of their debut I, Gemini; they’re more assured and confident in how they take up space, contracting and expanding across styles with Blondie-like beats, staccato indie rock and sludgy psychedelic house. And where their first album saw them tightly intertwined, beautifully cryptic in their lyricism, here they challenge head-on their artistic and personal relationships, with each other and elsewhere. “I blur in the haze that you cut straight through,” sings out the hazy, jangly ‘Cool & Collected’, a song about admiring the abilities of another person. ‘Hot Pink’ dissects the emotional push and pull of wanting to be seen and heard to the sound of clattering electro.

Having turned 18 during this record’s run, Let’s Eat Grandma are in some formative, live-wire years of progression and maturation. For women who have known each other since primary school and been cauldron-brewing songs for almost as long, this is a time when two months can feel like two stretched-out years. Bonds form and explode easily, pulses gallop and stutter. It’s totally palpable here - on ‘It’s Not Just Me’, where the tense buildup to a shared romantic realisation unfolds in one rapid swoop, it’s charted by skin-prickling synths. There’s a fascinating theme of travel and movement across the album - dashing off a train, for example, in ‘Falling Into Me’ to shed past insecurities and woes, hurtling into summer nights and new experiences IRL and URL.

Lyrics get deliciously weird; evocative, vivid imagery is pulled inside out by curious hands. “I pave the backstreet with the mist of my brain,” is sung chillingly sweetly on ‘Falling Into Me’, necks bitten and gasping for air on the dark, Kavinsky-esque ‘Snakes & Ladders’, pain pulsating in the brutal, honest ‘Ava’ as they confront the breakdown of mental health. Even when approaching wider themes of life running in tandem with phone notifications or prodding the hulking beast of consumerism, the intimacy and urgency of their songs is never lost.

I’m All Ears is, overall, a lesson in curated chaos. I, Gemini laid the groundwork for future sonic pathways, and now Hollingworth and Walton have taken the opportunity to explore every alley, gutter and ditch. Instrumental intro ‘Whitewater’ could open a rebooted Stephen King series, while ‘Cool & Collected’ has the sparse and epic summits of broody Britpop like The La’s, and ‘It’s Not Just Me’ has synthy stab wounds not far off Tiffany’s ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ or a fresh Italo release from Berlin house label Cocktail D’amore. The record’s collaborators are ambitious and loads of fun - David Wrench (a Frank Ocean producer), The Horrors’ Faris Badwan and heavyweight pop disrupter SOPHIE.

Their record’s jewels are carved and cut with SOPHIE - who is currently celebrating her own masterpiece of an album, Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-insides. The thundering, dark ‘Hot Pink’ represents choppy but exciting new waters for the band, and ‘Falling Into Me’ unpicks pop’s lining perfectly, with its broken, neon disco beat racing into a savage techno high that’s pierced by a recorder. (Who knew that the instrument of pre-GCSE music rooms could facilitate such a banger?) And though some of these musings require patience and time - the curious, sometimes noodly interludes (‘Cat’s Pyjamas’ and ‘Missed Call (1)’) or the 11-minute epic that is ‘Donnie Darko’ - it’s more than worth it (especially for the enveloping climax of ‘Donnie Darko’). Through it all, I could make a home in the twinkly vocal falsetto of ‘Ava’ and the skittering echoing bridges of ‘I Will Be Waiting’. It’s about creating something rich and unexpected in textures, an optical lattice of sounds, that doesn’t stray from the evolving identity Let’s Eat Grandma are crafting for themselves.

This is an album that burns with ferocious, unapologetic energy, delving into eras, sounds and experiences with two sets of feet first. As they assert at the album’s roaring height: “We got this.”

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