You can’t deny Let’s Eat Grandma’s ambition. With the release of I’m All Ears, Norwich natives Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth will have put out their second full-length of sprawling, techno-optimistic dance-pop. The two have been making music together since the halcyon days of 2013, and I’m All Ears genuinely sounds like the work of two good friends bouncing ideas off one another, trying as best they can to challenge and collaborate with one another. The album also feels very much like a product of the omnivorous consumption of the streaming era, in which Walton and Hollingworth integrate a diverse and compelling set of influences and aesthetics; what this project hinges on is whether or not those wide-ranging choices ultimately cohere.
After an instrumental intro, the album opens with one of its strongest tracks, the early single “Hot Pink.” Produced in part by the British musician SOPHIE—well-known for her defiantly avant-garde and distorted take on synthpop—the track murmurs with pulsating drums and phased electric keys before exploding into a chorus section that sounds like if a Transformer died while breakdancing, all the while bolstered by buoyant shared vocals from Walton and Hollingworth. It’s a daring offering that balances the obvious appeal of its sugary hook with the biting feminism of its lyrics and the aggression of its backing. Other highlights include the Lorde-inflected lounge-house of “It’s Not Just Me,” as well as the gentle, aching ballad, “Ava,” on which Walton and Hollingworth extend empathy and support to a struggling friend, singing, “If you slip or stall, I’ll be holding your hands.” The track’s sparseness (just a vocal and a grand piano) is a welcome change of pace, as well as an appropriate textural shift given its subject matter.
Not all of the pair’s experiments are quite as successful; “Cool & Collected,” which clocks in at over nine minutes, almost plays out like a tone poem, all acoustic build without enough of a payoff to warrant its runtime. “Falling Into Me” begins thrillingly, with an assertive vocal calling out over a guitar figure reminiscent of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun,” before morphing into a less distinctive take on the band’s signature dance-pop. The minute-long, vocal-less interludes that pop up throughout, too, feel like something of a distraction from the album’s more immediate and focused moments. There’s something charming, though, about that sort of formal irregularity. After a while, I’m All Ears starts to feel like a playlist a friend made for you, one that includes all their ideas and celebrates them equally, regardless of how finished or polished they are. If Let’s Eat Grandma can rein it in a little and pick only their absolute favorites on their next outing, they’ll have something phenomenal on their hands. They’re already well on their way.
Support our site: Buy this album at Turntable Lab