Returning with ‘I’m All Ears’, the follow-up to ‘I, Gemini‘, Let’s Eat Grandma displays considerable growth while enchanting listeners with their delightful brand of experimental art pop. Consisting of Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth, the British duo has been one of the most invigorating musical acts over the last three years. With ‘I’m All Ears’, the friends and collaborators solidify their place as a premier group with only their sophomore LP.
‘Falling Into Me’ envelops listeners with its relatively straightforward approach before virtual decay ushers in its refrains while the heavy, comforting, techo-goth ‘Snakes & Ladders’ feels like a snuggly blanket one might nap with despite a dearth of warmth. ‘It’s Not Just Me’ sounds like Arca, CHVRCHES, and The xx collaborated to do the weather for ‘Welcome to Night Vale’, its mermaidish synth-pop and production from SOPHIE utterly boggling listeners. Later, the gargantuan ‘Cool & Collected’ recalls Courtney Barnett and Mazzy Star with its wavering psychedelia, the duo showcasing a versatility to their songwriting that few may achieve. Yet, despite the myriad positive attributes that bring ‘I’m All Ears’ thisclose to excellence, the album doesn’t quite achieve greatness.
Interludes ‘Missed Call (1)’ and ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas’ seem like afterthoughts, neither discernibly contributing to an overarching narrative or atmosphere. Thematically, the former would have paired nicely with the “Hello? Is that you?” on ‘Hot Pink’ (another SOPHIE-produced track) by immediately preceding this standout effort. Instead the forty-second-long transitions feels aimless between ‘Snakes & Ladders’ and ‘I Will Be Waiting’, an ugly-cry dance track that drops flat rather than trampolining to cathartic release, a toothless final refrain dropping to silence before ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas’ offers nothing more than wholesome, ambient purrs before audiences plummet into the record’s final three tracks — and twenty-three minutes.
While the “album” has flourished as an art form throughout the streaming age, ‘I’m All Ears’ is not one of those records. The aforementioned interludes are largely forgettable (and skippable) while mismanaged pacing causes a strong collection of tracks to bludgeon audiences and diminish an otherwise exceptional showing. By the time album-closer ‘Donnie Darko’ dazes audiences with its loopy-doopy, synth-laden climax, the final two-and-a-half minutes seems superfluous, a disappointing note on which one departs. Although this effort offers numerous enjoyable moments, it seems as though Let’s Eat Grandma‘s “masterpiece” is still dancing on the (near) horizon.
‘I’m All Ears’ is out now via Transgressive.