|Let`s Eat Grandma — I, Gemini (June 17th, 2016)|
Let`s Eat Grandma — I, Gemini (June 17th, 2016)★↔★ Rosa and Jenny. Otherworldly pop duo formed by a pair of childhood friends. Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth are just 17 and make experimental pop with carefree abandon. They also reckon the recorder is ripe for a pop revival. Best friends Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton have crafted a freaky and surreal debut album.
★↔★ “If I was somebody outside who heard our music, I’d think is this really good or really shit?” says Hollingworth. “You don’t know — I don’t know.” “Is it?” they ask each other, blithely. With that spirit, the pair have the freedom to push pop forwards — recorders in tow.
★↔★ Singular adventures in pop oddness, recorded in a nuclear bunker in Norwich. Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth’s debut has many childlike charms: over–sweetened teenage–witch vocals; liberal use of glockenspiel and recorder; and a low–boredom–threshold flightiness that carries the pair from dimly–lit trip–hop (“Deep Six Textbook”) to sinister folk (“Chocolate Sludge Cake”) and lo–fi rave and hip–hop (“Eat Shiitake Mushrooms”). There’s nothing infantile about their execution though, and they layer sound and ideas into enrapturing melodies with skill and fearlessness. © Photo Francesca Allen
Location: Norwich, UK
Album release: June 17th, 2016
Record Label: PIAS America
Genre: Psychedelic sludge–pop, Experimental
01. Deep Six Textbook 5:39
02. Eat Shiitake Mushrooms 6:11
03. Sax In The City 4:54
04. Chocolate Sludge Cake 6:36
05. Chimpanzees In Canopies 3:32
06. Rapunzel 5:20
07. Sleep Song 6:25
08. Welcome To The Treehouse Part I 2:47
09. Welcome To The Treehouse Part II 4:38
10. Uke 6 Textbook 1:59
℗ 2016 Let's Eat Grandma under exclusive license to Transgressive Records Ltd.
Photo: Francesca Allen
Styling: Mary Benson
★↔★ Guy Davie Mastering
★↔★ Mary Epworth Production Assistant
★↔★ Jenny Hollingworth Cello, Composer, Drums, Engineer, Glockenspiel, Keyboards, Mandolin, Percussion, Saxophone, Synthesizer, Triangle, Vocals
★↔★ Will Twynham Mixing, Producer
★↔★ Rosa Walton Chimes, Composer, Drums, Engineer, Glockenspiel, Guitar, Guitar (Bass), Guitar (Electric), Harmonica, Keyboards, Mandolin, Percussion, Piano, Synthaxe, Synthesizer, Ukulele, Vocals
★↔★ Tim Webster Mixing Engineer
By Saby Reyes–Kulkarni, JUNE 30 2016 / Score: 7.3
★↔★ The teenaged duo Let’s Eat Grandma explore the nightmarish whimsy of nursery rhymes and folktales with a distinctly English flavor on their chilling and impressive debut.
★↔★ 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.
★↔★ On “Textbook,” with just a few simple ingredients — including handclaps, glockenspiel, an ethereal keyboard solo that sounds like bagpipes emanating from a dream state, and heaps of reverb — multi–instrumentalists Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton make typical musical expressions of “sadness” seem one–dimensional by comparison. In just about any other musician’s hands, the crawling solemnity of “Deep Six Textbook” would be melodramatic if not outright suffocating. Somehow, though, Let’s Eat Grandma and producer Will Twynham (Mary Epworth, Kiran Leonard) manage to make dour moods both enticing and multi–faceted.
★↔★ From there, I, Gemini assumes a more playful cadence on its second track, the warped Latin–tinged pop “Eat Shiitake Mushrooms,” which recalls Blondie and the Tom Tom Club’s early–‘80s singles. Still, Hollingworth and Walton maintain an air of frosty gravitas throughout the album, even when it’s clear that they’re trying to be whimsical. This is all the more impressive considering that the pair’s high–pitched, squeaky voices at times sound like they belong more to elementary school–aged children than teenagers. Of course, the contrast between the childlike vocals and the daring experimentalism of the music can be rather unsettling.
★↔★ One can only presume that Twynham and Let’s Eat Grandma are playing up this contrast on purpose in order to re–create the mood of fairy tales that pit children against menacing threats. But other than the misguided rap on “Eat Shiitake,” Walton and Hollingworth don’t exactly come off as naive. In fact, their unwavering air of groundedness that makes for a more chilling effect. Musically speaking, the pair’s control is, in fact, exceptional — especially when you consider how so many adult artists use similar instrumentation to sound like they’re knocking around in a toy store. For all its baroque weirdness, evoking at times both Kate Bush and St. Vincent, I, Gemini holds together remarkably well.
★↔★ Let’s Eat Grandma have clearly learned to make maximum use of space. Even on the intentionally ramshackle, wobbly–groove of “Sax in the City,” I, Gemini never sounds haphazard. Whenever Walton and Hollingworth reach for a new instrument, they sound assured, not like they’re trying to give the impression that they’re finger painting with sound, and certainly not like they’re going to let the music unravel. “Chocolate Sludge Cake,” for example, opens with two and a half minutes’ worth of gentle recorder flutters that recall Peter Gabriel’s flute playing on Genesis’ forays into pastoral English folk during the early–‘70s. The song then blossoms into chaos as Let’s Eat Grandma sing about the different cakes they’re going to bake — apple, coffee, chocolate, etc.
★↔★ Genesis tunes like “Supper’s Ready” and “Firth of Fifth” became classics not only because of Gabriel’s hammy strangeness, but because that band was subverting music and imagery that had been deeply embedded in the English psyche while forging the sound we would come to know as prog. Let’s Eat Grandma appear to tap–into the same collective unconscious of nursery rhymes and folktales, with a distinctly English twist. With I, Gemini Let’s Eat Grandma not only hold their own with their predecessors, but they also create a world that demands you come to it on its own terms, not the other way around. An impressive achievement from musicians of any age. ::: http://pitchfork.com/ © Rapunzel fans Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton of Let’s Eat Grandma
BEN HOMEWOOD, 16TH JUNE 2016; SCORE: 4/5
★↔★ “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’. Jenny and Rosa are now aged 17 and 16 respectively, but far–out inspirations clearly remain. While their pop sensibilities are clear, the music is surreal and dense, with guitar, synthesiser, saxophone, glockenspiel, recorder and vocals that lurch from sugary to shouty.
★↔★ But exploration of ‘I, Gemini’ reveals its quirks are knitted together with extreme smoothness. ‘Deep Six Textbook’ — a foggy, synthy anti–school ballad with a glockenspiel solo — is a deceptively restrained opener. ‘Eat Shiitake Mushrooms’ quickly banishes straightforwardness, though. More glockenspiel, nervy synth and distorted guitar combine for two minutes, before drums and rave whistles turn it into a clubby thrill. There’s even a rap breakdown.
★↔★ Things only get freakier. Whispered commands of “Tell me something interesting!” and honking saxophone contrast cleverly with girl–group sweetness on ‘Sax In The City’. Nursery–rhyme nightmare ‘Chocolate Sludge Cake’ provides the loudest moment, following a three–minute build–up of recorder, wailing effects and drums with a brilliant cacophony that sounds like a cupboard full of pots and pans being violently emptied. Bonus points for the call and response of “No, I’m gonna make a poppy cake,” “Uuurrrgh!”, too.
★↔★ Also plagued by screeching volume are ‘Rapunzel’ and the crawling, Ariel Pink–ish ‘Sleep Song’. Respite comes via the dreamier ‘Welcome To The Treehouse Part I’, but Let’s Eat Grandma excite most when they’re being awkward. They know it, too: closer ‘Uke Six Textbook’ is deliberately sickly sweet, designed to mock their twee image. Really good or just sh*t? They needn’t have asked in the first place. ★↔★ http://www.nme.com/
Gwilym Mumford, Thursday 16 June 2016 22.00 BST, Score: ****
★↔★ 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). By rights it should be a mess, but it turns out to be a beguiling brew. The affected childlike cutesiness of the pair’s vocals rub up against chilly trip–hop on Deep Six Textbook, and nightmarish fairytale folk on Rapunzel, creating something that is at once catchy and deeply creepy. Bon appetit! ★↔★ https://www.theguardian.com/
Rachel Aroesti, Tuesday 31 May 2016 09.00 BST
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares, Score: ***½
|Let`s Eat Grandma — I, Gemini (June 17th, 2016)|