Friday, August 20, 2021

#18 I, Gemini - Let's Eat Grandma

Original release date : June 2016.

Here's another where I absolutely do remember exactly where and when I heard about the band for the first time. Boy George told me. 

Not personally, you understand. He didn't come round our house for a cup of tea and a chat. That would be a story. No, it was in The Guardian, back when we used to get free newspapers at work, before someone decided it was costing too much and if people wanted to read  the papers in their breaks they could damn well pay for them themselves. Which, naturally, no-one did so we don't have the papers any more.

It's a shame. I learned about a lot of new music through that sidebar they used to have in G2, where they'd flag up stuff worth checking out in just a line or two. Plus I read all of Alex Petridis' reviews and I trusted his judgment enough to go follow up on YouTube if he seemed to think it would be worth my time. It generally was.

I first heard about Lana del Rey from The Guardian, ffs. She was still Lana del Ray at the time. I think it was either just as Video Games was breaking or even a little before. So it was a loss when I couldn't pick up tips for free in my lunch hour any more.

Before that happened, though, I read a short piece by Boy George where he was talking about new stuff he'd heard about and thought was interesting. He was doing a lot of DJing at the time, in clubs and on the radio. His opinions had some currency. 

I've always liked Boy George so I was paying attention but I really took notice when he started on about a band he'd seen on some TV show that he thought would frighten the horses. Okay, that's nothing like what he actually said but it's how I remember it coming across. I think what he did say was if you wanted to freak out your grandparents, this lot would do it..

Yeah, he didn't say that either. Look, I don't remember what he said, alright? It doesn't matter, anyway. The important part is he said their name, Lets Eat Grandma, and it was was odd enough to stick in my mind. 

When I got home I checked them out online. The "band" turned out to be two teenagers from Norwich called Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth. They had extremely long hair and some stage moves I had literally never seen done before. That never happens any more. The stage moves, I mean. (Okay, Arrow, but even then, Iggy...)

I was mesmerized. I know I use that word a lot but in this case it's the right one. I just stared. My jaw may have dropped. It was like watching alien life forms. The way the two of them communicated without speaking, the signs they didn't need to give each other, the way they traded instruments while still playing them, just the things they deemed appropriate for a performance in front of strangers. 

You know those stories where some lucky unfortunate gets carried away to the Seelie realm to dance with the Faerie Queen and her court and when they wake up a hundred years have passed? This would be what that's like. You see what Boy George was getting at.

I can't recall whether the album was already out by then. I guess it must have been. Anyway, I bought it the first chance I got. Well, of course I didn't. I put it on my wishlist and waited for someone to buy it for me because if I just went out and bought whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, then I'd never have anything to tell people when they asked what I wanted , would I? And people need to know that. 

In the meantime I could just watch and listen to them on YouTube. So I did.

The album is stunningly good. I'd be even more effusive about it if this was then, before I'd heard what they'd do next. Their sophomore album (I love saying sophomore. It's cultural appropriation, though. We don't have sophomores here.) is the only thing that stopped Lana getting a hat trick of top three places.

I, Gemini (Superb title. Tells you everything.) is quite plainly the work of two people still at school, which is where they were when they wrote all the songs on it. They formed the band in 2013, when they were just into their teens (They'd met when they were four, best friends ever since).  At the same time, it has to be a school on Mars or in the Nth dimension. 

The lyrics are obscure and abstruse, the soundscapes are astral, subaquatic, deranged. It's where trip-hop could have gone but never would. You can drown in it.

As time went on and I saw more of Let's Eat Grandma's eliptical, formal, performed performances, the strange turned familiar and the threat leeched out. I wasn't mesmerised so much as amused and entertained. It's a shame but it always happens. 

Luckily, as I've already said, what was lost in novelty was regained many times over in the rapid and overwhelming growth and strength of their songwriting. I'll get to that when we hit #3 but I'll just say that I've rarely heard such architectonics and the lyrical acuity literally makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. That happened last week when I played Donnie Darko in the car. But let's save that for later.. 

... and talking of later, it's been five years since the first album and three since the second. I haven't heard a word about a third. Jenny suffered a personal tragedy in 2019 and then the pandemic happened. 

We'll wait. I guess we'll have to.

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