Release Date: Jun 17, 2016
Record label: PIAS
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
At a time when every major album release is a fastidiously managed event designed to be as bleeding-edge as possible, we should be thankful for Let’s Eat Grandma, two multi-instrumentalist 17-year-olds from Norwich who seem to have zero interest in tailoring their outsider pop to current tastes. Their debut album is likely to be one of the few this year that features the deeply uncool sound of a recorder solo, and definitely the only one that manages to evoke the Cocteau Twins, Fiona Apple and Alisha’s Attic in one song – the bewildering Eat Shiitake Mushrooms. Let’s Eat Grandma describe their sound as “psychedelic sludge-pop”, which in practice turns out to be a peculiar mix of backwoods folk, stark electronica and slightly naff late-90s chart fare (think the garbled half-raps of Billie’s Because We Want To).
Every now and again we need a reminder that, as a society, we really have no business condescending to adolescents, especially with art that insults their intelligence and fails to speak to the depth of their experience. I, Gemini, the debut album by teenaged English duo Let’s Eat Grandma, inadvertently nudges us to remember that we have just as much to learn from teenagers as they supposedly do from us. “Wise beyond its years,” so to speak, the album begins with the funereal beat and keyboard swells of “Deep Six Textbook,” a song that Let's Eat Grandma enshrouded in a haze of gloom.
Let's Eat Grandma's Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth love duality. They look like they could be twins (actually, they've been friends since age four), and their band name comes from the grammar meme that reminds readers of the comma's importance with results that are either sweet ("let's eat, grandma") or horrifying ("let's eat grandma"). The duo has it both ways on the often fascinating I, Gemini, which they recorded while they were still in their teens.
It's hard to believe Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth are just 17. Their debut LP may be underpinned by the exuberance of youth, but the U.K. duo's inventive sonic range—including massive gyrating synths, tender glockenspiel chimes, and even a spot of (perhaps ill advised) rhyme spitting—points to unexpectedly ripened ears. A bright future beckons.
There was panic when we first heard the noises. We craned toward the wood, heard drones and echoes, the stomps of a black mass shoving its bulk through a rotten jelly and then… twin handclaps. Girls laughing. Girls screaming. There was panic, but there was wisdom: “There is prodigious danger in ….
The debut album from Norwich’s Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth – aged 16 and 17 respectively – brings with it to the pages of RC the sound of youth, wild experimentation and true joyousness, but also an absence of fear of sounding, well, really silly. Take their lead-off single, Eat Shiitake Mushrooms (geddit?), which bustles along energetically enough, with both friends offering vocals and heaps of glockenspiel. But at a distinct right turn, it melts down into a high-pitched rap which can only be described as squirm-inducing.
Let’s Eat Grandma have an eye for the odd. Two teenagers - Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth - based out of Norwich, they’ve been friends since day one. And their debut album packs a childlike sense of wonder that hints at higher climes, strangely-built pop with intentionally-weird production. Problem is, this imaginary world they inhabit isn’t the most inclusive.
There’s a school of thought that it’s no longer possible to create anything original with pop music. With their debut I, Gemini, Let’s Eat Grandma make nonsense of such an idea. Over its ten songs teenagers Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton create a world entirely of their own making. What’s also remarkable is that whilst the music is constantly expansive - they sound like they’re backed by an orchestra at times - the pair played all of the instruments, including brass, woodwind, keys, drums and guitars, themselves.
There is something unsettling but ultimately compulsive about this record. From the opening moments of ‘Deep Six Textbook’, you feel compelled to listen attentively and follow the whole oddball affair to its conclusion. Fragmented, childlike voices crisscross each other over spellbinding sounds that are soothing but not without darkness (think First Aid Kit meets The Shining).
If you would've asked Carl and I that we'd still be writing this feature a few months ago, we would've been surprised. But we just can't help ourselves, seeing as this year has been exceptionally rich in terms of album releases. So how did we fare with our monthly "leftovers" this time around? Well ….
“Is this really good, or is it sh*t?” asked Jenny Hollingworth in Let’s Eat Grandma’s first NME interview last month. The singer and multi-instrumentalist was wondering how people might react to the divisive, untameable sound she’s crafted with best friend Rosa Walton since forming the band at 13 and writing a song about a novelty alarm clock called ‘The Angry Chicken’. Her hypothesis seems sensible: debut album ‘I, Gemini’ does whiff of Marmite.On the cover, there’s a treehouse in trippy shades of purple, and song names include ‘Chocolate Sludge Cake’ and ‘Chimpanzees In Canopies’.
Welcome to the dark underbelly of the pretty unfair industry cycle that shoves Radiohead and Queen Bey and Views and that Apple Music independent contractor Chance the Rapper down our collective throats. You can’t really engage with music in 2016 without knowing about those records, but now that ….