Don’t let the name turn you off; Let’s Eat Grandma makes pretty soothing music, nothing especially morbid or violent like the name may suggest. Comprised of teenage duo Rosa Walton and Jessie Hollingworth, Let’s Eat Grandma proved their chops two years ago with their debut I, Gemini, a curious collection of genres and sounds harnessed together into an unorthodox but not unpleasant project. Their latest, I’m All Ears, exudes that same omnivorous taste, combining synths, rock guitars, and even a few playful strings and pianos into something fresh. If they resemble anything, Let’s Eat Grandma resembles the warped soundscapes of CocoRosie, where childlike vocals and quirky compositions belie more serious topics.
A product made by ~the youth~, I’m All Ears tackles the teenage struggle of today far differently than Katy Perry’s own adolescent anthem from nearly a decade ago. That’s not to say it’s unhappy, it’s just a bit more jaded and realistic. “The feeling when your head gets/You'll know it when your head gets surreal,” pertains as much to the existential crisis of growing up as it does the strain of an endless, and often depressing, news cycle. Delivered in “I Will Be Waiting”, the lyric arrives as a lifeline more than a warning, reminding listeners the struggle is one not only understood but also shared. Meanwhile, “Hot Pink” takes Elle Woods’s signature color and turns it into a battering ram, pushing back against preconceptions about gender and femininity. More than anything else, Let’s Eat Grandma thrives on flipping your assumptions on their head. Even when you expect a complete collection of synthetic tracks, I’m All Ears blindsides you with a piano ballad, “Ava”.
Lyrically, I’m All Ears never feels too full of itself. It appears more content with unraveling its feelings in the ways it sees fit, laying out victories alongside shortcomings and fears. “Jupiter, Mercury, so we rot away/Where is our power?” they wail on “Snakes & Ladder”, the prog-rock beneath them only amplifying their concerns. Despite its title, “Cool & Collected” comes across as insecure as anyone’s ever been when expressing interest in another: “‘Cause I'm impressed with you/I don't have that effect on you.” Yet I’m All Ears’s forthrightness reads like therapy, journaling emotions aloud the same way some Twitter users display their lives: explicitly, slightly detached, and just the right amount of cheek.
A great way to approach I’m All Ears is by thinking of it as a jam session, where both Walton and Hollingworth experiment news ways of making music and detailing experience. It allows for a mishmash of elements and influences to come together in a bizarre and ultimately rewarding experience, one that feels finalized by the album’s closer “Donnie Darko”. Like the film it takes its name from, the track reexamines the possibilities of a specific medium, in this case music, fashioning it into a vessel which best conveys their message. Let’s Eat Grandma have furnished a vessel all their own, one shaped by an appreciation for the past and a keen vision for the future. It’s no wonder it feels very now. B PLUS