Album Of The Week

Album Of The Week: Illuminati Hotties Let Me Do One More

Snack Shack Tracks/Hopeless
2021
Snack Shack Tracks/Hopeless
2021

“I feel like I can kind of do whatever I want.” That’s the reigning ethos of Sarah Tudzin, the sharp songwriter and studio wizard behind Illuminati Hotties. Between her auspicious 2018 debut Kiss Yr Frenemies and last year’s slapdash fuck-you “mixtape” Free I.H.: This Is Not The One You’ve Been Waiting For, Illuminati Hotties songs run the gamut — Tudzin can churn out sparkling pop-punk rippers and spaced-out acoustic warbles with the best of them. She’s proven herself to be endlessly determined and extremely talented. An indie rock rapscallion, a tender-hearted sweetheart just trying to do her best — all those qualities are on display with her new album, Let Me Do One More. It doubles down on the project’s wild swings between effervescence and monochromatics and offers up yet another compelling résumé of sounds that solidify Illuminati Hotties as one of the most exciting rock bands out there right now.

The album’s opening one-two punch is peak Illuminati Hotties content. “Pool Hopping” starts Let Me Do One More with a restless blast of energy, as Tudzin jumps between bodies of water around her native Los Angeles in an attempt to outrun her problems. As with most of her songs, there’s a darkness that’s threatening to creep in, hinted at in lines like “spitting my teeth into their hand,” but the song is relentless in its sunny disposition and desire to have the most fun while we still can. And the indelible “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” is straight-up just one of the best songs that Tudzin has ever written, sour guitar notes and fired-off punchlines that coalesce in a chaotic nonsense hook and draws in the rest of her community (credited as “all the attendees of an over-capacity housewarming party shouting gang vocals”) to sing along some gibberish with her. It’s ridiculous, as Tudzin puts on a voice that’s like Jim Carrey doing the Grinch and sings:

So I do a dabble while I dribble the babble, baby
I had it bad but now I’m back in the saddle, baby!
An extra-terrestrial, I used to be grounded, baby
Pitiful puppy pick me up at the pound now
I guess I’m too fun, I guess I’m too funny
If you’re not laughing, baby, then you’re not making money

I mean, come on! Fun shit. There are more rip-snorters like these to be found on Let Me Do One More. “Joni: LA’s No. 1 Health Goth” is a snarling, runaway train car of seething jealousy and contempt, as Tudzin paints a picture of an above-it-all scenester that she can’t help but want to be like. “Joni cut the door line/ Joni doesn’t have time/ Joni lights a dart on stage/ Joni’s on a juice cleanse/ Joni doesn’t need friends/ ‘Cause Joni’s got the whole room trained,” Tudzin rattles off in quick succession, toppling over herself and some mangled guitars as she attempts to capture even an ounce of this imagined foe’s charisma. The shout-along chorus of “Kickflip” and “Knead,” which channels wiry ’90s alt-rock into a desperate burble, and “u v v p,” a blitzed-out slow dance jam that invites Buck Meek along for the ride as a wearied traveler, all provide even more variations on Tudzin’s balls-to-the-wall vitality and incisiveness.

A whole album of high-octane songs like this would be, frankly, obnoxious. Thankfully Tudzin is wise enough to balance it out with tracks where her sincerity is on full display. Whether that takes the form of her stoned late-night thoughts on society via “Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism” or the soft, sputtering “Protector,” there are plenty of moments on Let Me Do One More when its just Tudzin and her anxious thoughts, which are constantly encroaching on her good time. The album’s scraping closer, “Growth,” paints a lonelier and more conflicted picture than most of Illuminati Hotties’ more upbeat songs would suggest. “Each time I come home I still look for my dog/ It’s a force of old habit/ It’s not that I forgot/ For a second I’m alright/ ‘Til I realize she’s gone,” Tudzin sings. “I guess being an adult is just being alone/ I’ll go back to the couch/ Let you stare at your phone/ We’ll pretend this is normal/ We’ll pretend this is growth.”

Right when she released Free I.H.: This Is Not The One You’ve Been Waiting For, Tudzin’s mother passed away. Let Me Do One More is dedicated to her. In the album’s liner notes, Tudzin talks about the oddity of making abundantly happy songs when feeling so sad, and about the disconnect she feels between the outer persona she’s made for herself and her own inner turmoil. “I do not feel forced to put this out, and I also am diffident in doing so,” she writes. “Perhaps the fear that life marches slowly ahead whether we have the people we love in it or not fills me with pause. Perhaps it’s that my mom will never hear the songs I’ve worked so hard to finally capture, build upon, and release unto the breeze. Perhaps it’s that someone will die on the eve of release day.”

Let Me Do One More was mostly completed before this happened, and it must be hard as an artist to sit with an album that represents a time in their life before so much tragedy. What should be a celebration might feel a bit hollow. But it’s important to note that the songs Tudzin has made here are life-affirming in their own way, and the title of Let Me Do One More has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s rare that you can hear how hungry an artist is to capture the listener’s attention and devotion, but on Let Me Do One More, Tudzin is a force to be reckoned with, exhibiting strength and vulnerability that would make anyone proud.

Let Me Do One More is out 10/1 on Snack Shack Tracks/Hopeless.

Other albums of note out this week:
• Strand Of Oaks’ In Heaven
• Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s Love For Sale
• Tirzah’s Colourgrade
• Hovvdy’s True Love
• Brandi Carlile’s In These Silent Days
• Meek Mill’s Expensive Pain
• Wiki’s Half God
• The Body & BIG BRAVE’s Leaving None But Small Birds
• Full Of Hell’s Garden Of Burning Apparitions
• Yes’ The Quest
• Ministry’s Moral Hygiene
• The Doobie Brothers’ LIBERTÉ
• Pond’s 9
• Boy Scouts’ Wayfinder
• Ducks Ltd.’s Modern Fiction
• Black Dice’s Mod Prog Sic
• Thanks For Coming’s #1 Flake In North America
• audiobooks’ Astro Tought
• Couplet’s LP1
• Cindy’s 2:1
• GLOK’s Pattern Recognition
• Explosions In The Sky’s Big Bend: The Wild Frontier Of Texas soundtrack
• Philip Frobos’ Vague Enough To Satisfy soundtrack
• The The’s live album The Comeback Special
• Neil Young’s Carnegie Hall 1970
• Garbage’s beautifulgarbage 20th anniversary reissue
• Double Dagger’s rarity compilation Sophisticated Urban Living (Contemporary Conveniences Edition)
• Gordon Lightfoot tribute album Ladies Sing Lightfoot
• Kevin Morby’s A Night At The Little Los Angeles (Sundowner 4-Track Demos)
• Diet Cig’s I Don’t Like Driving Like I Used To EP
• Sylvie’s self-titled EP
• Spy’s Habitual Offender EP

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