Sunday, October 17, 2021

#3 I'm All Ears - Let's Eat Grandma

Couple of years between releases seems... fast? Slow? About normal? I don't know what to expect any more. What even is an album, anyway? Sometimes they drop and no-one expects it, sometimes nearly every track's been trailed weeks, months ahead. Is that any different from releasing singles ahead of the album to promote it? I grew up with that but i also grew up with singles that weren't on the album, never were meant to be, with people who wore that like some badge of honor (Roxy Music, looking in your direction.)

First hint for Jenny and Rosa's sophomore effort (Take a note: 1. That sophomore thing is getting old. 2. "Effort" is so patronizing. 3. First names only after full names. There's an etiquette. Adhere to it.) for me, I guess for everybody, was Hot Pink. Came out, I think, as a single. Sounded so different. Harsh, hard, difficult. In retrospect that may have been the late, lamented Sophie, producer on this one track. 


Lyrically it's all, all, all J&R. (Better? No, I don't think so.) Line after line leaps out and bites hard. The whole lyric's in the details at the link but just listen. It's all there. So, Hot Pink, an abrasive calling card, left me wanting more.

I got more. Oh boy, did I ever.

There's a dream of promise fulfilled that rarely ever happens. When it does it feels so good. I'm All Ears is that dream. I mean, I love the first album but this is so much more. So much more than most things, really.

It's not that often I get literal shivers listening to music. It happens sometimes. When I listen to this album it happens every time. And I'm not even talking about Donnie Darko, which is up there with all the other ten minute epics from Sebastian and Land to Frankie Teardrop and I Love You Like Gala. I am a sucker for an overwrought, emotional epic, has to be said, but with Let's Eat Grandma it's not even the vocals, not always, not only. Not the words, true as light though they are. It's the dynamics, the changes, the shifts. The way every song feels like pushing through a forest at midnight or falling down a cascade.


Oh god! I had Falling Into Me playing in the background as I wrote that last paragraph and then the sax came in and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I had to stop and. And. And.

It does that every time. I had the album playing when I was driving and when the sax solo started I nearly fugued. Some songs shouldn't be played at speed. Not by me, anyway.

It cannot be denied there's something progressive about Let's Eat Grandma and not just in theatrics that would have gladdened the heart of any Peter Gabriel era Genesis fan (the only era that matters.) Listen to the structure. For that matter, listen to the guitar on this live version of Cool and Collected. Close your eyes, it could be Steve Howe, although I wouldn't want to suggest it, not to him or to them.

I won't go on much longer. Taking songs out of context doesn't do truly great albums any favors and this is a truly great album. It needs to be heard as a piece not in pieces. 

So what does that say about Donnie Darko, one of the most intense, transformative songs I've been fortunate enough to hear in half a century? It's the last track because what could follow that? 


So let's not even try.

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