‘Falling Into Me’ shifts gears again with fluid prog-pop, and opens with one of the oddest lines the band have ever written (‘I pave the backstreets with the mist of my brain’). It’s worth noting that their lyrics are a heady mix of vulnerable and surreal throughout. Later in the album, they write of skin peeling back like clementines and speak of the mind like a homescreen. From this point on, the band’s ideas get sprawling. ‘Snakes and Ladders’ is an epic glam ballad that feels as indebted to John Carpenter soundtracks and the darkest material from Portishead as it does old-school Bowie. The duo paint a magic lineage between the people that inspire while keeping their voices at the centre.
’I’ll Be Waiting’ is another winding anthem that combines nursery rhyme optimism with subtly complex layering and knotty rhythms. Like elsewhere on the album, it’s a cut that benefits from the addition of live drums, which feel designed to boost the heft and in-the-moment feel that Let’s Eat Grandma shoot for, vocally. The song also happens to be one of Rosa Walton’s most captivating performances, especially as she directs the key change at the Disney Channel emulating climax.
The band get even more loose and adventurous on the backend, with the ragged nine-minute ‘Cool and Collected’ and eleven-minute closer ‘Danny Darko’. The former takes a ghoulish pych-rock approach, but like many tracks here, Let’s Eat Grandma pivot into new territory constantly. The stakes grow greater with each new verse, as more synths are added and melodies subvert expectations.
‘Danny Darko’ underlines all the nostalgia, drama, and scale that they’ve been playing with throughout. Its patient, warming pace emulated the introspection and melancholy of a late-night comedown. The song is already a live staple. At their recent Glasgow show, the band began by lying on the ground, legs crossed, letting the rest of the room settle into the casual opening chord before slowly adding guitars. Then their voices. Then drums. Then more keys. Then some dance moves. Finally, they bursted into a wild recorder solo, the peak of the whole set. They ran back and forth, beckoning the audience to join in. All of that enthusiasm, confidence and wit is carried into this recorded version. The key changes hit even harder, and now that the lyrics can be picked apart, their power sinks in.
Through all the eccentricities and quirks, it should be said that ‘I’m All Ears’ manages to be a gloriously readable pop album on first listen. For a band hailed as cult heroes one album in, this is the boldest statement they’ve made so far.