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The UK duo’s newest album, ‘I’m All Ears,’ is one of 2018’s best.

Has anyone ever asked you what type of music you listen to? Apart from being the most pointless icebreaker ever created by mankind, I personally never know how to answer.

I enjoy ambient music just as much as Atlanta-based trap rap, and you’ll find Norwegian black metal mixed in with Japanese noise rock on several of my playlists. I’d imagine that Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton find the above-mentioned question equally as hard to answer, if not substantially more so.

In case you don’t already know, the two English teens comprise the genre-bending pop group Let’s Eat Grandma, whose sophomore outing, “I’m All Ears,” is a colorful, unusual examination into adolescence, heartbreak and identity. Critics repeatedly call attention to Hollingworth and Walton’s gender and age — they are 18 and 19, respectively — but the duo prefers to be praised for their style and innovation as opposed to their non-artistic qualities.

Hollingworth discussed her irritation in a recent interview with Pitchfork. “But when you’re a young female artist and you do something that’s a bit shit, people are so quick to be assholes about it,” said Hollingworth.

“You’re either gonna be shot down or, when you do really well, people are gonna obsess over the fact that you’re young and female. I feel like people just don’t understand young girls at all… I feel bad even being annoyed about it, because there’s so many great opportunities we’ve had.”

Despite “I’m All Ears” standing as one of summer’s least accessible releases, the album may endure as its most distinctive. Here’s a look into its track list that will show you why its worth being sought out.

1. Whitewater

Replay Value: High

Clocking in at just under two minutes, the album’s opening instrumental is sonically reminiscent of a track underlying the opening credits of a neon-lit horror film from the ‘80s. Pulsating, twinkly synths compliment a steady drum beat as warped strings and distorted bass swirl about.

The song’s atmosphere melds the ominous with the dreamy, a mixture that Let’s Eat Grandma run throughout their album’s 52-minute runtime.

2. Hot Pink

Replay Value: High

Although “Hot Pink” begins calmly, almost tranquilly, a slowly winding sense of tension hints that the ease won’t last, and any sense of serenity shatters when the aggressive chorus hits your ears.

A thunderous beat masterminded by SOPHIE of PC Music fame knocks the listener around while lyrics about glitter-eaters, ponies in the sky and the need to “realign” faces finish off the song’s bi-polar energy. It’s a chaotic, syrupy nightmare of a track.

3. It’s Not Just Me

Replay Value: Very High

My personal favorite song on the entire album, “It’s Not Just Me” marks the second SOPHIE produced track, and it shows. The song would not seem remotely out of place on a PC Music compilation due to the producer’s trademark robotic, sugary touch, which imparts an unsettling innocence to the song.

The hopefully romantic lyrics boost this sentiment. “Because the point is that I see it’s not just me/The point is that you feel my company/I don’t wanna say goodbye/Guess I’ll see you when my screen is vibrating.”

As opposed to “Hot Pink,” Let’s Eat Grandma immerse their immediately catchy chorus in playfully sorrowful synths while bouncing on a light, jittery drum pattern — though I wouldn’t describe “It’s Not Just Me” as a happy tune by any means. The song’s bittersweet vibe emanates a sense of solitude.

The image of a heartbroken teenager swaying alone in their room as the song plays off their laptop immediately comes to mind. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a lonely night.

4. Falling Into Me

Replay Value: Very High

Lyrically, “Falling Into Me” draws listeners into a dreamy recreation of one person’s night in the city alongside a potential love interest — over the course of a misty evening, the protagonists drive through red lights, pace down backstreets and find solace in each other’s company.

Sonically, the song expounds on the pre-established mood while a robotic breakdown catalyzes the constantly warping, expansive tone. Lyrically, the words exhibit Let’s Eat Grandma’s knack for visual songwriting.

“When we were like night bloom violets/Our handprints pressed to my window/I was feeling quite right like this as the lightning glitched/And it echoed in your eyes/Beating right through the denim/You left a dent in my home screen.”

While I’ll likely return to “It’s Not Just Me” more than “Falling Into Me,” in terms of fusing lyricism and craft, the latter takes the prize for the most beautifully written and emotive song on the album.

5. Snakes & Ladders

Replay Value: High

Wait a second — are those guitars? Surprisingly, “Snakes & Ladders” disposes with synths and toys instead with alternative rock, and though hazy electronics continue to echo in the background, track five begins the transition into the guitar-centered side of “I’m All Ears.”

The groovy instrumentation, abstract lyricism and slower pace come across as the duo emulating Radiohead circa 1997, and that’s a very good thing.

Let's Eat Grandma
Let’s Eat Grandma performing their first single, “Deep Six Textbook.” (Image via YouTube)

6. Missed Call (1)

Replay Value: Low

There’s not much to say about “Missed Call (1).” As a 40-second instrumental composed of pizzicato strings, it makes a lively reprieve from the imaginative density of the past five songs. It’s a charming detour, evocative of a melody snatched from the soundtrack of a cute Nintendo game.

7. I Will Be Waiting

Replay Value: High

If I hear “I Will Be Waiting” in a movie sometime in the not-too-distant future, I won’t be surprised. The song’s momentum rises gradually as ethereal backing vocals drape over guitars and waterlogged synths. No oddities to be found here, only a profound sense of beautiful calm.

8. The Cat’s Pyjamas

Replay Value: Very Low

I can’t speak for other people, but the sound of a cat purring and licking directly in my ear doesn’t do it for me at all.

“The Cat’s Pyjamas” is undoubtedly my least favorite song on “I’m All Ears,” even though it’s only a minute-long instrumental. The organs on here are cool, but other than that, I’ll pass.

9. Cool & Collected

Replay Value: Moderate

I can’t lie — this nine-minute track is somewhat challenging to sit through. Hazy guitar notes lingering in the air, “Cool & Collected” signifies Let’s Eat Grandma at their moodiest, but least adventurous.

A smoky club filled with teens in leather jackets slowly bobbing their heads serves as a suitable illustrative comparison. The solemn, grungy alt-rock ballad fashions itself as a tongue-in-cheek slight aimed at the notion of “cool kids,” while remaining true to one’s self.

“How to be cool and collected/I wanna be bold and unaffected/But I’m just/The same as I ever was.” An intriguing detour, but not one that I’ll return to frequently.

10. Ava

Replay Value: High

As the ambience of falling rain simmers behind minimal piano chords, “Ava” expresses the story of an anguished, grief-stricken girl presumably struggling with depression. Consequently, the lyrics feature Hollingworth — whose vocal control on this track is nothing short of powerful — singing words of encouragement to Ava.

“I said/Why’d you take it as final when you’ve started to spiral/Girl why can’t you see/You know I know you can do it/And I’ll help you get through this/Whether it’s once or twice or again.”

Curiously, the song concludes without a definitive resolution, allowing the final words to convey a haunting sense of remorse. “I wonder where she’s been livin’/And if she’s still wishing for no one to see/I know I have to accept this/But if she’d have let me/I’d be there once or twice or again.”

11. Donnie Darko

Replay Value: Very High

The fact that the last song is named after one of my all-time favorite movies gives it extra points right off the bat. In comparison to “Cool & Collected,” the 11-minute runtime of the album’s closing track rockets by.

Introductory guitars give way to woozy, animated electronics, and “Donnie Darko” feels like the sum of the album condensed into one epic montage of color and emotion. As the final seconds of the song tick away, the lingering, ghostly note that makes up the final moment of “I’m All Ears” imparts the sensation of finally waking up from a dream — a dream that you won’t be able to shake for quite some time.

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