Let Me Do One More isn’t quite as sonically succinct as past Illuminati Hotties records, but it’s rich in its emotional contours and progressions.
Producer and sound engineer extraordinaire Sarah Tudzin is back with her second full-length album, and third release as Illuminati Hotties, Let Me Do One More. The record spawns from a tumultuous time in her career, after releasing last year’s mixtape FREE I.H: This is Not the One You’ve Been Waiting For as a way to escape a subpar contract. As such, Let Me Do One More is the first release on her new label, Snack Shack Tracks, and this genesis tidily fits within the album’s themes of new beginnings, something Tudzin has been through plenty of in the course of this record’s conception and release.
Illuminati Hotties originally served as a purpose to showcase Tudzin’s songwriting prowess outside the bounds of the traditional indie pop/rock fields that she was working in. Her music is a blend of these soft pop stylings and lyrical fodder orchestrated with the delivery of a punk rock freight train, ripping hot power chords and shouted lines about how hard changes can be peppering all three of the band’s records. On this latest, there’s a palpable tenderness, the LP narratively/thematically opening in the period of uncertainty following a breakup. Let Me Do One More weaves a story of reclamation through dates and late-night trips to hotel pools, and the progressions feel incredibly authentic, recognizing that pain comes in waves and matching its sonic movements to this rhythm, the unexpected emotional ass-kickings here coming even during something enjoyable like an ice cream date.
There are plenty of delicate moments to be found, such as on tracks like “u v v p,” featuring Buck Meek of Big Thief, but there are loud, almost unhinged moments too, speaking to insecurities rather than tenderness on tracks like “Joni: LA’s No. 1 Health Goth,” with Tudzin shouting “You wish you were like her” while describing a clean-eating yoga instructor (as grand an overt criticism on what is ostensibly a breakup album). Indeed, there’s plenty to latch on to in individual moments across Let Me Do One More, but the only thing the tracks seem to lack is a succinct sound, something that her previous releases accomplished with relative ease. There’s space and reason for all of the movements made, but the steps to get there don’t always feel like the right sonic decisions, too often opting for something humorous at times when an angry beat would play better, for instance. This isn’t a pervasive issue on the album, as Tudzin’s career in production has led to mostly prudent choices in these areas, but it’s a more notable bug on this release than in past efforts.
Pain and conflict can certainly lead to great art, and after losing her mother to cancer, a breakup, paying her way out of a contract to regain her old masters, and putting out her third release in as many years, Tudzin’s thematic palette — and, indeed, career — certainly seems to have been goosed as of late. These struggles shape the sound of Let Me Do One More, cultivating an earnestness that’s more endearing than cringe, and presents a compelling invitation to return for multiple listens as Tudzin sifts through feelings as if they were wholly new, communicating these new beginnings onto the listener and priming them for the same kind of introspection. It’s in these emotional footholds that Illuminati Hotties thrive, and even if the sum sound isn’t quite as clear in its vision, Tudzin and crew effectively earn the emotional payoffs here one song at a time.
Published as part of Album Roundup — October 2021 | Part 1.