Let’s Eat Grandma at Heaven, 28/09/2018
Let’s Eat Grandma ascend Heaven’s strobe-lit stage against the shivering synth-throb of “Whitewash”. It’s a dramatic entrance until Jenny Hollingworth has to adjust her mic stand. No matter. ‘Hot Pink’ – the lead single from this year’s I’m All Ears – reveals their peculiar psych-pop at its best. At once abrasive and super-soft, the song flips from shattered-glass samples and serrated sub-bass in its chorus to synths as spongy as a memory foam mattress in its verse.
Hollingworth and Rosa Walton’s deliveries match the song’s mood swings: from sugary-sweet, shrugged-shouldered faux-naiveté (“I’m only seventeen, I don’t know what you mean”) to pouty impudence. “Hot Pink / Is it mine, is it?”, they ask of a colour imposed on them from baby clothes to Barbie, exaggerating their vowels like your favourite grime-loving uni girls from the Home Counties (the pair grew up in Norwich).
Let’s Eat Grandma have labelled their style “sludgy, experimental pop”. They sound far clubbier live. “It’s Not Just Me” is pitched somewhat safely between restrained melancholy and hands-in-your-hair dancefloor catharsis. Though its rippling oscillator hook is underpowered, “Falling Into Me” offers expertly crafted pop, poised between urgency and quiet euphoria: “You/Me/This/Now wherever we go is the best place” distilling the rush of rapturous romance into an affectingly simple refrain.
On numerous occasions a drummer provides a stomping four-to-floor kick while Hollingworth and Walton produce lurid neon-coloured textures from twin keyboards. The duo haven’t yet mastered build-and-drop dynamic shifts (they’re only 19 so they’ve got plenty of time to do so). Losing the backing tracks might help.
There are mellow moments too. “Ava” provides a plaintive, springy piano ballad. “Cool and Collected” is a bit too cool, meandering languorously over the same fingerpicked guitar loop for nine minutes. Conversely, main set closer “Donnie Darko” justifies its eleven minute runtime – its insouciant hook reminiscent of a head-spinning mid-morning afterparty.
At just under an hour the gig should be longer. Only one track from their 2016 debut I, Gemini – released when the duo were just 16 – makes the setlist. With its resonant deep-navy piano chords and cavernously slow beat, “Deep Six Textbook” sounds as if it’s reverberating through the spires of a haunted gothic castle. Hollingworth and Walton resemble the castle’s weird sisters, drooping their hair over their heads and playing pat-a-cake before conjuring fairytale imagery through sticky sickly harmonies. Twinkling glockenspiel and sustained saxophone notes redolent of a bugle horn lull the one-song encore to a bewitching, uncanny end. To the crowd’s disappointment, that’s it.