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Let’s Eat Grandma – Two Ribbons
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Every Let’s Eat Grandma album feels like a milestone. Their swaggering 2016 debut I, Gemini introduced us to best pals Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth, two Norwich schoolgirls who sounded like nothing before. The record was boldly experimental but often dizzying in its disorder; a listening experience akin to spinning around in a playground then vomiting after. Two years later, their second album funnelled their best instincts, the whirrs and schoolyard vocals, into euphoric synth pop with purpose. I’m All Ears was nominated for an Ivor Novello award.
Two Ribbons is another milestone for the duo. Their third record finds the inseparable pair separated. Written mostly individually, it explores the small fissures beginning to show in their friendship as they’ve grown up and grown apart. The result is remarkable. On the dark and moody title track, what was once a singular braided stream of consciousness is now a ping-pong conversation. It is Walton and Hollingworth trying to express themselves – and in turn trying to understand the other. Some songs are more personal. “Watching You Go” sees Hollingworth grappling with the emotions she felt after her boyfriend, Billy Clayton, died aged 22 from bone cancer in 2019. It’s tender and tough, like pressing on a bruise just beginning to heal.
Jack White – Fear of the Dawn
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Jack White’s new solo album Fear of the Dawn is basically one long jam session. Which is fine, if that’s what makes him happy. For the rest of us, it’s a bit of a slog. His signature waspish guitar buzz has none of its usual frenzied attack; single “Hi De Ho”, an attempt at a tribute to American jazz singer Cab Calloway, lacks his ingenuity.
Even White’s usually thrilling experimental moments are tedious here. “The White Raven” doesn’t so much soar as plummet helplessly into a quagmire of chugging bass, loose percussion, and White’s frantic squawks. “I don’t even know what I’m doing it for,” he rasps on “What’s the Trick”. Sounds about right. ROC