Let’s Eat Grandma, the UK pop group composed of childhood friends Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth, has gone through a major transformation since the groups 2016 debut. That record mixed recorder, saxophones, and synths through a thick layer of haze to create a unique but not all too memorable album.
For their follow up, I’m All Ears, the two 19-year-olds have refined that sound with the help of outside producers while also coming into their own as songwriters and singers. This new path results in one of the most charming pop and sonically interesting releases this year.
The immense leap in quality from their first record can be heard on this albums lead single, “Hot Pink.” Produced by SOPHIE, the song incorporates her trademark rubbery bass and harsh synths while the duo’s bratty vocals rally against the misconceptions of gender and the power of expressing it.
This song is leagues better than anything Let’s Eat Grandma has put their name to so far, with it’s thoughtful and important lyrics and in the sound of the song with I’m still finding more layers to every time I listen to it. And I think this is the true success of the record. On the surface, LEG might seem like just another pop duo in the vein of a Tegan and Sara, or Icona Pop but they add enough personal touches to make them stand out.
Lyrically, the duo has moved away from the childish fantasy of their debut to a more refined and piercing humanity. Songs like “It’s Not Just Me” tackle long distance digital relationships with a sweetness that comes from growing up in that world and “Cool And Collected” finds the duo dissecting gender’s power imbalance. In a way there writing reminds me of another young songwriter, Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail.
Like Jordan, Walton and Hollingworth are young but that leads to thoughtfulness about this current time that their older contemporaries can’t match. The track “Ava” gets at this as well, as it discusses the realization that growing older doesn’t always mean things will become less complicated. It’s a little bit heartbreaking but it’s because the duo’s words hit so close to home on the track as well as the rest of the album.
Sonically, Let’s Eat Grandma push the limits of comfort and it mostly great effect. The synths and handclaps on “It’s Not Just Me” give the track a summery mood and it’s breakdown feels very CHVRCHES in the way it almost seems to fall apart before exploding into some outstanding. There are even some instrumental highlights here like the shoegazey “The Cat’s Pyjamas” or the John Carpenter-inspired sound on “Whitewater.”
But while there is a lot to love about the sounds on this record, it’s clear the girls didn’t do much editing when it comes to the track lengths. Most songs push five minutes with a couple entering the eight-minute mark. For most of the runtime this is okay but on certain tracks like the closer “Donnie Darko” it becomes tiresome and at worst annoying.
When these songs do work though they do wonders, and showcase why these girls deserve the praise their receiving. Anytime someone can elevate their sound and writing to these levels it’s worthy of acclaim, and with I’m All Ears Let’s Eat Grandma seem poised to receive it.
I’m All Ears is out now on Transgressive.