I'm All Ears

Let's Eat Grandma

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I'm All Ears Review

by Heather Phares

I'm All Ears arrived almost exactly two years after Let's Eat Grandma's debut, I, Gemini, but the leap the duo makes on its second album feels like it should've taken much longer. In some ways, it did: Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth wrote and recorded most of I, Gemini when they were in their early teens. Though neither of them had hit the big 2-0 by the time of I'm All Ears' release, the changes they went through between albums couldn't help but be reflected in their music. On their second album, Hollingworth and Walton channel the free-flowing ideas and potential of their debut into more structured but still unpredictable songs that barely contain the sounds and emotions inside them. While I, Gemini sometimes seemed in danger of becoming too insular, on I'm All Ears, Let's Eat Grandma open their doors to a handful of well-chosen producers. SOPHIE's sugary synths and brass-knuckle beats are a perfect fit for the duo's exploration of the soft and tough sides of femininity on "Hot Pink." Later, David Wrench's work with Frank Ocean and Bat for Lashes informs "Falling into Me," which flits effortlessly between arpeggiated synths and acoustic guitars, and lyrics both surreal ("I pave the backstreet with the mist of my brain") and direct ("Wherever we go is the best place"). On these songs and the gorgeously unguarded "It's Not Just Me" -- where the vocal hook "I know you're feeling the same way" captures the blissful surprise of realizing a crush is mutual -- Let's Eat Grandma nod to Lorde and other purveyors of late-2010s synth pop without losing any of their own identity. This is even more apparent on the album's second half, when Walton and Hollingworth abruptly change gears with the swooning rock of "Snakes & Ladders." Their stylistic shifts never feel contrived, especially when the results are as stunning as "Cool & Collected." A proggy nine-minute epic, it weaves together unrequited love and yearning for self-assurance with an evolving rhyme scheme that's as engrossing as its unfurling guitars. By the time Let's Eat Grandma unite the album's different sounds on the exhilarating finale, "Donnie Darko," Hollingworth and Walton prove that a few more years under their collective belt haven't tamed their adventurous spirit -- if anything, the way they challenge expectations on I'm All Ears is more exciting than ever.

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