Let's Eat Grandma - I'm All Ears

by Tim Sentz Rating:7 Release Date:2018-06-29
Let's Eat Grandma - I'm All Ears
Let's Eat Grandma - I'm All Ears

There isn’t much that separates the unfortunately named UK duo Let’s Eat Grandma from the myriad of indie pop bands that spring up every year. They have all the right ingredients necessary for a pop breakthrough – hooks, minimal but evident electronic aspects, sugary choruses, and that certain danceability running through their records. While their debut record “I, Gemini” drew on influences from their neck of the woods, its follow-up “I’m All Ears” seems more geared towards American audiences.

“I, Gemini” was a more experimental record for the twosome, it had the same hooks, but spent more time drowning the listener in sonics than in beats. “I’m All Ears” does away with that approach, and it helps LEG get a bit denser, as well as a bit more accessible while they are at. Thankfully they don’t fall prey to the sophomore slump, and instead, deliver a solid pop album with multiple gems. CHVRCHES comparisons aside – and there are many – LEG has decided to lean further from their contemporaries and offered up a follow-up that while skimpier on overall tracks, ends up as a beefier version of their debut.

Early preview “Hot Pink” kicks things off appropriately, after the synthy intro “Whitewater,” with a pulsating dance-y track that would fit right in on a Lorde or Charli XCX album. It’s an early standout, with vocals that are crisp and British as their accents stand out more on this outing. “Hot Pink” won’t make the rounds in clubs, but with its guest production by Sophie, it’ll get your head bobbing. The track’s breakdown peters out towards the end and serves as a segue into “It’s Not Just Me,” a straight send-up of fellow indie-pop newcomers like Half Waif and a twist of U.S. Girls.

The first half of “I’m All Ears” blends together a little bit. A lot of the synths are reused between tracks, giving the album a narrative that pulls you through each song. “Falling Into Me,” while being the most notable of the singles, feels a bit derivative of the previous tracks as a result of the recycled synths. A drawback to synth-pop like this is the lack of diversity, and LEG fall victim to this multiple times on “I’m All Ears,” not to the degree of unlistenable, but noticeable.

Content-wise, “I’m All Ears” disposes the folklore references the first album overused and opts for a broader, vaster range of topics – love, loss, loneliness, and so on; but this is where the biggest gripe with LEG comes into play. “I’m All Ears” is a tremendous improvement over “I, Gemini.” It’s more focused, even if it substitutes hazy landscapes for synths. But for every grand display of craft, there are moderately uninteresting lyrics about the same thing new bands have been singing about since the dawn of time.

Let’s Eat Grandma have reinvented themselves successfully though, which is not easy. Whatever pitfalls “I’m All Ears” has – and there are plenty – it makes up for with solid pop construction. Late in the game, “Cool & Collected” is the album’s centerpiece and a magnificent one at that. Until this point, the lackluster lyrics and recycled synths were weighting down the album in places, but here it’s beneficial and provides an essential moment for consumption by the listener – the major highlight of an album that has many great moments, but still not a lot of “perfect” ones.

In the end, “I’m All Ears” is a more accessible triumph that won’t age well, but it’ll provide its audience with plenty to return to throughout 2018. Like many albums this year, it’s very much of its time, being indebted to Lorde, CHVRCHES, and other synth-laden compatriots, and it makes a case for what pop and dance music could potentially veer towards if more like-minded acts approach their content under a new lens. Still, it leaves a lot to be desired once it finally finishes, but hopefully, a third record will come about and give us another reason to listen.

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