Music Review: Let’s Eat Grandma, The Deaf Institute, Manchester
Let’s Eat Grandma aren’t giving anything away. Flanking the drummer, by whom they’re augmented for live performances, Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton survey their audience at Manchester’s Deaf Institute with the half smiles of cats who know they have all the cream, their lips firmly sealed.
Their shared amusement, like the hectic breadth of their repertoire, apparently knows no bounds. Mute though they remain between songs, within them there is a sense that they can barely contain themselves as they unselfconsciously ransack pop’s dressing-up box, dusting off its dowdy castoffs so that they glitter like something new.
The sole concession to the larval-in-hindsight debut, I, Gemini, must wait until the set is – aptly – six songs old. Deep Six Textbook remains a disarming displacement in time, a playground twist on the nursery rhyme, but its 4 A.D. filigrees and shadows are eclipsed by the butterfly house glamour of the new material.
Hot Pink is the first evidence of fresh developments. Setting the tone for the evening, it’s like something has snuck into pop’s palace while the doors were ajar; a track that it’s possible to conceive of hearing on Key 103, except that it is unmistakably other in a way that – though hard to pin down – is deftly askance of the charts in a manner not unlike the post-punk pop incursions at the birth of the 1980s.
Its successor, unannounced but based on the available evidence quite possibly entitled It’s Not Just Me is – if anything – even more singular, simultaneously channelling both Baccara and the future, like a nuisance call to the Eurovision Song Contest or a number one song barred from heaven.
In its succinctness, it’s distinct from the rest of the set, which, as best exemplified by closer Donnie Darko, tends to wobble at the edges, the density and velocity of ideas threatening to tear the song apart in their centripetal force. Donnie begins with both lying supine, Walton with guitar in hand, before progressing – via inexact schoolyard hand claps – to a climax and coda that recalls an undisciplined New Order.
Indeed, whether conscious or unconscious, the most striking aspect of the performance is the ease with which other people’s wardrobes are adopted and discarded. Current release, Falling Into Me, is Grandma not bound in a nutshell, evoking – inter alia – Lorde if she had not become dulled by moving in charmed circles, and The Day Before You Came unwearied by the exigencies of adulthood, before culminating in a surprisingly tolerable saxophone outro – the pair are fervent rehabilitators of unloved instruments – from Hollingworth.
A refusal to submit to the ritual of the encore is, in many respects, the icing on the cake. Perhaps it’s their own glee in pop in all its wonderful preposterousness, and the contagion of that delight, but it feels as though Let’s Eat Grandma are on the precipice of their imperial phase, like Prince before them and no-one else since.
They leave, of course, in silence.
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