Ethereal art pop duo Let’s Eat Grandma (Norvician lifelong besties Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth) quickly gained a following with their infectious and delightfully strange 2016 debut. I’m All Ears, the band’s second LP, isn’t a jarringly dramatic shift, but it’s enough of an inventive and well-focused pivot to demonstrate that the English teens wholly deserve to be seen as serious contenders in their field.
Despite their whimsical grammar joke of a band name, they are far from a novelty act, and with their latest album, Let’s Eat Grandma successfully avoid the sophomore slump, balancing bubblegum pop and angsty guitar rock in order to craft some of the year’s most indelible tunes.
From the industrial, cinematic opening track – “Whitewater,” a brilliant instrumental marriage of synths and strings – the newfound tonal shift is firmly established, letting the listener know that they are in for a much weightier enterprise than 2016’s I, Gemini. Walton and Hollingworth clearly spent the last two years cultivating a focused artistic vision, as is cemented on the abrasive banger “Hot Pink.” Co-produced by SOPHIE and Faris Badwan, the track’s oily, polished production makes for a bubbly pop song that takes biting jabs at constrictive gender expectations. It feels like watching the future of synth music unfurl in real time.
The album also finds strength in its tender moments (“Falling Into Me,” “Ava,” “It’s Not Just Me”), many of which are not unlike early Chvrches album tracks in their silky resonance. As Let’s Eat Grandma turn down the tempo and strip away some of the intoxicating layers of sound, they are successfully able to truly showcase the airtight melodies and wise-beyond-their-years analytical lyrics hidden underneath. Throughout these sonic twists and turns, I’m All Ears maintains its undeniably distinct personality, booming with equal parts grace and confidence.
Rather than coast on the goodwill of their debut, the determined duo continue to strive toward breaking new creative ground, as is on full display on expansive, sprawling tracks like “Cool & Collected” and “Donnie Darko.” A true credit to their efforts, Walton and Hollingworth are more than capable of using lengthy runtimes to explore their stunning aesthetic ambitions without ever feeling showy or off-putting. But for safe measure, they aren’t afraid of counterbalancing an eleven minute prog track with a thirty second breather, in the form of atmospheric palate cleanser “Missed Call (1).”
An album – particularly one so early in a fledgling artist’s career – with as many varied goals for itself as I’m All Ears shouldn’t be able to nurture an organic flow, but Let’s Eat Grandma continue to display the maturity necessary to capitalize on these interlocking pieces, creating a work that is eclectic without coming off as disjointed. A refreshingly enthusiastic endeavor, the record is precisely the call to arms indie pop needs right now. It’s not inconceivable to foresee Let’s Eat Grandma snowballing into one of the genre’s most enchanting secret weapons.