Let’s Eat Grandma – Two Ribbons

Genre-defying duo find their independence…

When a band says that they’ve invented a new genre, it’s usually a cue to roll your eyes and change the channel. In Let’s Eat Grandma’s case, though, their claim to have invented “experimental sludge pop” seems entirely justified: their debut album ‘I, Gemini’ may have sounded only intermittently like pop and absolutely nothing like sludge, but it was certainly experimental, and very, very hard to label. Childhood friends Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth spent the next two years honing their sound, and their follow-up, ‘I’m All Ears’, combined their wildly diverse influences with more conventional songwriting to produce one of the standout albums of 2018.

Four years on, it’s clear that Walton and Hollingworth have lost none of their knack for engaging, anthemic songs, although they’ve changed approach somewhat. It’s a shift that’s there in the album titles and artwork: where ‘I’m All Ears’ presented the duo as one person, their faces merged on the sleeve in opalescent waves, ‘Two Ribbons’ shows them half-submerged in a river wearing flowing, different-coloured dresses that make the metaphor clear. For the first time Walton and Hollingworth have separate songwriting credits here, and the result is an album that sounds surprisingly cohesive in sound.

That consistency is sometimes a relief, sometimes a disappointment. The first four tracks – from upbeat, firework-sampling ‘Happy New Year’ to richly patterned ‘Hall Of Mirrors’ – sound rather like CHVRCHES, which would be a compliment to any band less fantastically original than Let’s Eat Grandma. They’ve lost some of their charming oddity, but the music feels more direct as a result, more personal, which is a new strength that they’re right to explore. And ‘Insect Loop’ proves that LEG’s wackiness can still shine through the gloss on occasion: built around a staccato riff that sounds like someone picked up a guitar and tried to play it like a synth, it’s a lushly polished gem and the high point of the record.

This is very much an album of two halves, and ends with a series of ballads – some better than others. ‘Sunday’ dabbles in a few too many clichés, while ‘Strange Conversations’ starts promisingly without quite reaching its promised climax. By the time the title track rounds things out, we’ve come about as far as it’s possible to get from ‘Happy New Year’s’ exuberant start, and reached what’s clearly intended as a culmination of the album’s message: “These places, they stay but we’re changing – like two ribbons, still woven although we are fraying.” Change is always both a challenge and an opportunity – and while this is by no means Let’s Eat Grandma’s masterpiece, it’s a welcome development in the journey of an endlessly fascinating band.


Words: Tom Kingsley

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