Seemingly taking place in a British child’s nightmare, as if Freddy Kruger decided to out branch his evil deeds overseas, the debut record from teen friends Let’s Eat Grandma (I Gemini) was spine-chillingly dark, otherworldly and intriguing for its witch-like lyrics and imaginative creepy soundscapes mixed with the unpretentious element of Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth singing in an obviously Kate Nash like British tone. For its bravery and lack of conformity to safe pop made it become a dividing marmite for unprepared critics, yet it’s hard to argue that it had a distinctive style that was ummatched.
However, I Gemini’s songs were written when they very young and now they’re reaching the climax of their teenage years Norwich’s Walton and Hollingworth have a different perspective on life. Rather than being fascinated by sinister childhood fairytales, they have arisen from their surreal friendship cocoon and are studying the world around them as they grow up.
Like its title suggests, album number two I’m All Ears is much more extrospective, listening to other people’s views and advice. For starters, they teamed up with electronic record producer SOPHIE who lent her experience in creating multiple layered avant-pop. Whilst the songs on the record discuss gender stereotypes (‘Hot Pink’), mental health (‘Ava’), envy (‘Cool and Collected’) and insecurity in relationships (‘Falling Into Me’).
Although there are touches of the unsettling persona found on their debut on the interludes ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas’ (hear a cat snore), ‘Whitewater’ (an all too short yet fascinating opener sounding like John Carpenter composing a Scandi-noir) and Missed Call (1) , musically I’m All Ears is much more accessible than the debut and is a mixed bag in its creativity.
There are many times when their synth pop and vocals sound yawnfully like Chvrches (I’ll Be Waiting and It’s Not Just Me) and ‘Hot Pink‘ contains some of the irritating components of EDM, despite still maintaining their distinctive voices.
Yet the record contains four brilliantly inventive songs that go past the five-minute mark and demonstrate that they still possess some anti-pop traits with radio-unfriendly time counts. They’ve created patiently building compositions that contain instrumental moments of rhythm guitar performance and unexpected progressive rock nous.
‘Snakes & Ladders’ is ambitious in its astronomical lyrics and use of synth drone and its edgy rock-pop confidence is akin to Christina Aguilera’s ‘Fighter’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Give Into Me’. ‘Falling Into Me’ is an ethereal invigorating neo-lit wonder that threatens to develop into a rave. ‘Cool and Collected’ lives up its name. Mellow and breezy nostalgic psychedelic jangly guitars evocative of The Who taking LSD in a smoky tent. One of the longest songs of the year ‘Donnie Darko’ is just as slow burning and spacious with big gaps between verses filled with delicate steel guitar, a hypnotic phaser effect and 80’s pop keyboard. Patient is not what you’d expect from usually hyperactive teenagers of this generation but Let’s Eat Grandma continue to do the unexpected.
I’m All Ears is out now on Transgressive.