Album Reviews

Let’s Eat Grandma – Two Ribbons

(Transgressive) UK release date: 29 April 2022

For all the sonic invention which they usually display, it’s the raw emotion and sadness which make this their finest album yet

Let's Eat Grandma - Two Ribbons It’s fair to say that Let’s Eat Grandma have been through a lot. Not just the usual pandemic-related woes that the entire world has been dealing with, but with grief, mortality, disintegrating friendships and more. So it’s fitting that all these subjects hang over their third album – and it’s some achievement that it all sounds so utterly joyous.

Some background first. Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton were just 16-year-old school friends when they first formed their band. They quickly saw their lo-fi bedroom pop gain a big audience, helped by support slots with the likes of Anna Meredith and Chvrches. Yet with success came added pressures, and the lifelong friends from Norwich suddenly found their friendship fragmenting.

Added to this, in March 2019 Hollingworth’s partner Billy Clayton tragically died of a rare bone cancer aged just 22, and then a year later the world went into lockdown. It would all be enough to finish off lesser bands, but Hollingworth and Walton have fed off this adversity to create a truly special record.

Happy New Year is possibly the best celebration of young female friendship since Lorde‘s Ribs – a big, celebratory anthem full of nostalgic memories about building igloos in parks and taking bubble baths in swimsuits. The cries of “happy new year” and “hallelujah”, plus the sound of actual fireworks, just add to the delirious feel of the whole track.

That sense of euphoria, helped in no small part by David Wrench’s co-production, is like a thread running through the album. Hall Of Mirrors is one highlight – a massive wall of synths building up, dropping out and then bursting into life for the chorus. It’s a dizzying listen, as is the addictive Levitation, all big drums and lyrics like “although I’ve had a catastrophic Saturday I’m just enough to look a million dollars anyway”.

There are more contemplative moments on Two Ribbons of course – Watching You Go sees Hollingsworth address Clayton’s death, and it’s almost impossibly moving while remaining celebratory about his life. The emotion in Hollingsworth’s voice as she sings “I said to you, I’m not staying in, I’m not wasting it” is palpable. The instrumental interlude of In The Cemetery (complete with insect sounds) also serves as a paean to remember loved ones while continuing with life.

The fissures in the duo’s friendship are addressed in the album centrepiece Insect Loop – from admitting that “at the moment there is no route to understanding each other’s truths” before everything bursts back into life with a promise to “haunt these Norfolk bays, weaving like the waves”.

Towards the end of the record, things take a more reflective tone, with the acoustic ballad of Strange Conversations, and then the title track rounding things off. It’s the latter that probably sums up the entire album, a sad lament featuring Hollingsworth’s world-weary vocals as she sings “I just want to be your best friend, just like it always was”.

This is an album full of emotion and heart, which despite the circumstances under which it was written, leaves you feeling gloriously uplifted. For all the sonic invention which they usually display, it’s the raw emotion and sadness on Two Ribbons which make this Let’s Eat Grandma’s finest album yet.

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