Rapid Fire Reviews: Illuminati Hotties, Lawn

Posted: by The Editor

illuminati hotties – Kiss Yr Frenemies

Specializing in an idiosyncratic type of indie-rock, LA songwriter Sarah Tudzin writes in a way that’s completely free of pretense and proudly millennial. And that’s not just because nearly half of the tracklist on her debut album is stylized in Internet speak and a majority of her songs sound like they were written by someone who just had a midnight epiphany in the Taco Bell drive-thru . Kiss Yr Frenemies, the first full-length from illuminati hotties, could have just as easily been the working title for the Mean Girls fanfiction I’ve been pouring myself into. Instead, Tudzin has crafted a meticulously sequenced soundtrack to Los Angeles, capturing the highs and lows of being a 20-something trying to find their own path in the City of Angels.

Tracks like “(You’re Better) Than Ever” and “Pressed 2 Death” are sticky and sweet, featuring raucous, Riot grrrl guitars and sunny melodies. On the other hand, cuts like “Cuff” and “Patience” are cold and wet, recalling the loneliness that comes creeping in as the sun fades into the night sky. Even during its most stirring moments, Kiss Yr Frenemies is a hopefully optimistic record, but this isn’t really a case of the glass being half-full or half-empty, it’s more like the pool is half-full; if there’s water, Tudzin can grab her swimsuit and take a dip, and if it’s empty she can grab her skateboard and try to land a couple of kickflips. Tuzdin is a multifaceted producer and her versatility behind the boards pays off. “Paying Off The Happiness” starts off with drums that are eerily reminiscent of something Jack Antonoff might cook up in the studio (think “Shake It Off” but with a Bitcrusher thrown in for good measure).

Album closer “Declutter” is sparsely populated, adorned by nothing more than a haunting piano that creaks and groans and Tudzin’s fractured vocals, her voice delicately draped above everything else. Occasionally, she will rattle off a quick-witted one-liner in the same breath as a more straightforward kiss-off; her bubbly charisma is infectious, leaving you hanging on every word. Kiss Yr Frenemies is a momentous debut, the 280 character version of Brian Wilson Presents Smile, establishing Tuzdin as the next big thing.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great Phenomenal

Lawn – Blood on the Tracks

Naming your debut album Blood on the Tracks is a bold move, especially when it shares almost nothing in common with Bob Dylan’s landmark album of the same name. If there’s any comparisons to make, both albums share an honesty and rawness that’s straight to the point. Taking cues from post-punk pioneers like Wire and Gang of Four, as well as Britpop acts Suede and Blur, Lawn attempt to forge a new path for themselves. Their new album Blood on the Tracks isn’t just jangly guitar lines and NME obsession; it’s actually lighthearted indie-rock that’s blissfully unaware of how intricate it truly is. Lawn understand that sometimes less is more and they use this to their advantage, listening to their gut and trusting their instincts.

The record is primarily comprised of minimalist song structures that slowly bloom, eventually revealing themselves to the world in a multitude of shapes and sizes. “Rats” and “Suzanne” are short bursts of energy, falling closer to the punk end of the spectrum, while “2000 Boy” and “Making Friends” are shimmering and catchy, tracks that gravitate closer towards indie-rock without sacrificing the white heat of the album’s shorter numbers. Mac Folger’s hypnotizing vocals perform a balancing act as well—half of the album his voice is serene enough to lull you to sleep, the other half is spent in an unsettled panic mimicking the feeling of running late to an important meeting at work. This polarity attempts to pull the album in two different directions, and it’s what makes Blood on the Tracks such a unique album. The album occasionally veers off course; “Jackson” sounds like a George Harrison solo cut and “Diets” opens with a riff that could make Billy Corgan blush. Even during these moments, there’s not a lot of bands out there doing what Lawn does, and the number of bands that are doing it as well is few and far between.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great Phenomenal

Michael Brooks | @nomichaelbrooks

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