wed 22/05/2024

Let's Eat Grandma, Patterns, Brighton review - odd-pop duo remain a contagious one-off | reviews, news & interviews

Let's Eat Grandma, Patterns, Brighton review - odd-pop duo remain a contagious one-off

Let's Eat Grandma, Patterns, Brighton review - odd-pop duo remain a contagious one-off

Musically restless originals bring acuity to their unique take on pop

Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth of Let's Eat Grandma

At the start of the song “Two Ribbons” Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth of Let’s Eat Grandma do a brief schoolyard pat-a-cake hand-game. The song is a guileless ode to female friendship, love even, a paean to their own bond, which was strained at one point by the travails of a music career.

Of course, it’s a piece of theatre, but the pair also emanate a very real sense of young women enjoying each other’s company, revelling in the sheer creative fun they have together. It’s a big part of their appeal. Kate Bush would be proud of them.

Three albums into their career, the Norfolk duo are still a cult act. Their last two albums made the mid-20s of the Top 40 and the crowd here are devotees rather than casually interested. Mostly hipster-ish and in their late-twenties, the men looking as if they’re auditioning for Bastille, there’s also a heavy smattering of the middle-aged who, presumably, recognise, as I do, an oddball homology with heritage synth/art-pop.

Walton and Hollingworth are backed by a drummer and by guitarist Kamran Khan, who was also solo support act Fake Laugh. His plaintive singer-songwriter stylings were not to my taste but he plays a mean guitar, as he proves on the picked notations of Let’s Eat Grandma’s debut album opener “Deep Six Textbook”. Mind you, so can Walton, whose precise, complex fretwork on spawling encore track “Donnie Darko” draws a round of applause.

Walton is clad in a bell-sleeved red velveteen top, Hollingworth in a black silver-glittering, flowing number and, with their long hair, the pair have something of Seventies rock stars about them. Prog is one of the seasonings to their music but never to the fore (thankfully!). Sharing vocals, Walton wanders the stage doing a curious hiccupping jump-step dance as she sings while Hollingworth is given to stationary performance, her heavy fringe, and the way she fleetingly glances from under it, suggesting she’s the shyer of the two. She gives the lie to that idea, though, when she clambers down into the audience at one point for a dance.

There is also a female roadie who comes on and off regularly. I’ve seen Let’s Eat Grandma twice before and on both occasions they were plagued by technical difficulties. This time, much less so. There’s no need for them to make their set-up this complex so it’s admirable they do, playing so much live, endlessly swapping between synths, guitars, Hollingworth’s occasional saxophone, and the rest. They could rely more on backing tracks, but part of their appeal is a clear engagement with their kit, the thrill of a risky, highwire performance.

When it comes off, it’s a treat. The blatant catchiness of “Levitation” recalls classic electro-pop, as does “Hot Pink”, its title mirrored by the bars of pink neon at the stage back. During the latter half of the set, with Hollingworth to the fore on the mic, their sound becomes more guitar-driven, more indie, with “Give Me a Reason”, the 7” bonus cut that came with the vinyl version of the new album, Two Ribbons, descending into a Velvet Underground-ish drone melee.

Patterns, the venue, is usually a nightclub, and works better as that. It’s difficult or impossible to see the stage from large parts of the space, with enormous pillars here and there, and other issues. It’s so low ceilinged that Hollingworth bangs her head on a stage-light during one of the duo’s affably choreographed dance routines. The show is also an early one, finished by 21.45 so Patterns can welcome the club crowd later. All these factors hinder the momentum, but Let’s Eat Grandma muster enough excitement, their presence contagious.

Over the last decade a lot has been written about alt-pop. Usually this just means that the artist in question is blatant pop favoured by the journalist, but they feel that terming said music as just “pop” would besmirch it somehow. In the truest sense, Let’s Eat Grandma really do make alt-pop, a feast of it, unpredictable, different and unique, the Twenties chart sound deconstructed, altered, made uniquely bizarre, Charli XCX by way of Salvador Dali, Kate Bush and Damon Albarn's more outré fare. It would be great if a wider audience took them to their hearts – as happened with Ms XCX – then they could bring a show to 500+ capacity venues, as they deserve.

Below: watch the video for "Levitation" by Let's Eat Grandma


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