Let’s Eat Grandma’s second album, I’m All Ears, is a supremely unsettling piece of work. As urgent and deadly serious as a recounted dream, it’s a breathtakingly original album with touchstones in gothic literature and American cult film. However, it remains deeply rooted in the band’s native Britishness, thanks to the retained Norfolk dialects of Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth.
Their debut album I, Gemini was a gently beguiling effort that earned the teenage duo comparisons with emerging superstar Lorde. Comparatively, a kind of unspeakable evil pervades throughout their follow-up. Opening track ‘Whitewater’ features a rich cello line, juxtaposed against the dull throb of an electronic soundscape; the effect is mesmerising. The album title paints a disturbing image, while simultaneously proposing musical growth as well as supernatural horror. The band manage to turn even the mundane into a barrel of fright, with the noise of falling rain on a tin roof sounding disturbingly alien within this context. The pair blend different sounds together which often unite in a jolting scream.
The majority of the first half of the album exists in this hellish cacophony. The overwhelming ‘Falling Into Me’ is unbearably suffocating, with layers building and building until they altogether dissipate, revealing a beautiful wave of sound. Melodies are swung from nowhere and then unexpectedly resurface again, like the metamorphosis of ‘Donnie Darko’ into a disco track.
As the album progresses, Walton and Hollingworth begin to sound less like Lorde, more like Grimes, and, ultimately more like themselves. Their distinctive youthfulness shines through on ‘It’s Not Just Me’. This is an angsty, synth-driven love affair that takes place at New Years Eve, juxtaposed against an undercurrent of dread. On ‘Cool & Collected’ both girls whine in unison “We’re gonna find out how to be cool and collected” profoundly dead-eyed, a parable about identity in the digital age. Meanwhile ‘Ava’, a character study about a long estranged friend, gives a window into the close and mysterious intimacy of teenage girls. Freaky album-closer ‘Donnie Darko’ may not be about Richard Kelly’s 2001 cult film, but instead a tone poem to a similarly strange work of art.
What does it all amount to? Maybe nothing. But I can’t remember the last time I was so royally freaked out by a piece of music.
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