The evolution of this duo’s sound is seriously impressive
Adam England
12:21 27th April 2022

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The trance-like, nursery rhyme quality of Let’s Eat Grandma’s 2016 debut I, Gemini had that naïve, outsider quality and youthful idiosyncrasy which endeared them to critics and consumers alike: the reviews were generally positive and there was genuine excitement in terms of where the pair (Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton) could take their music in the future. The 2019 follow up I’m All Ears was a little more radio-friendly, perhaps, but still full of charm, showcasing a more mature electropop sound that still had the duo’s trademark character. 

They’ve been around for a while now, so it can be easy to forget just how young Let’s Eat Grandma actually were when they started out. Friends since the age of four, they started making music at 13, and released their debut before they could legally order a pint in the venues they were headlining. Now in their early twenties, they’ve been through a lot in recent years, and that’s something that’s reflected on new album Two Ribbons. 

It’s been almost four years since the release of I’m All Ears. A little over a year later Jenny’s boyfriend, singer and musician Billy Clayton, died of bone cancer — understandably, they cancelled their forthcoming US tour, and it took a while for Jenny to be able to write music again. Around the same time, the dynamic between Jenny and Rosa was evolving, something they’ve not shied away from discussing in interviews leading up to the album’s release.

Part of what made Let’s Eat Grandma, well, Let’s Eat Grandma, was the close relationship between two friends who had grown up with each other, almost twin-like in nature. They even pretended that they were twins on occasion.

Friendship is something that’s a common thread throughout Two Ribbons, reflecting the pair’s journey. Lyrics like “Do you remember how we spent our days at the end of my garden? / Summertime, rope swings” from opener and single ‘Happy New Year’ hammer home their past together, but throughout there are hints at a promising future too. The track is vintage LEG, but with a wistful quality that makes it a really fitting opener.

It’s followed by the final single, ‘Levitation’, which is one of the standout tracks on the album. The synths have more than a few shades of early CHVRCHES, and while it’s not as quirky as anything from I, Gemini, or as in-your-face as some of the other tracks on this album, it’s a grower that soon becomes apparent as perhaps the jewel in the Two Ribbons crown. 

‘Insect Loop’ adds power-pop to Let’s Eat Grandma’s electro-pop to make a potent mix, the track’s optimistic and uplifting feel proving infectious, while ‘Watching You Go’ is a tender tribute to Clayton: the emotion in Hollingworth’s impressive vocals is evident, and it’s the most moving thing the duo have done to date.

Further along, things get more stripped-back, and while we don’t ditch the synth-pop entirely, ‘Sunday’ and ‘Strange Conversations’ are both uncharacteristically acoustic. While it might not be expected, this change in sound is effective and hints at where the duo could travel, going forward.

Sandwiched in between the two tracks is ‘In the Cemetery’, one of two shorter tracks on the album. A peaceful yet thought-provoking instrumental, it bears similarities to the I, Gemini sound and harks back to the earlier days of Let’s Eat Grandma. It’s a nice interlude, breaking up the album a little. 

If there’s a criticism, it’s perhaps that with four singles released before the album, and the album comprising ten tracks altogether — including the aforementioned ‘Half Light’ and ‘In The Cemetery’ — there’s a lack of truly fresh material here. That’s some heavy nitpicking though, and it says a lot that it’s so difficult to find fault in the album. It flows well, and the evolution of the duo’s sound is seriously impressive. 

Two Ribbons arrives 29 April via Transgressive Records.

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