It may be best to talk about illuminati hotties’ Let Me Do One More by starting at the end of the album. The final track is “Growth,” a sincere, stripped-down song, compared to the punk-electronic-surf-indie concoctions that mastermind Sarah Tudzin devises. A humble guitar accompanies a whispering Tudzin, both resounding through what seems like a vast spaceas she sings of coping and change. She sits her guitar down before saying, “Let me do one more.”
Tudzin seems relentlessly committed to perfecting the subgenre she coined, “tenderpunk,” and creating an album worth waiting for. After the success of their debut, Kiss Yr Frenemies, she and her band were tediously crafting their follow-up until relations with their label crumbled. illuminati hotties found themselves in a contract to release an album without the infrastructure they desired and in a very punk-like fashion, they released the surprise-streaming Free I.H.: This Is Not The One You’ve Been Waiting For. Tudzin clearly knows what she wants, and with each album, illuminati hotties keep getting closer to their end goal.
There are no brakes on Let Me Do One More—rather, it is more like a sprightly rollercoaster, with mellow gaps in between punchy electronic tracks creating arcs bound to give out an exhilarating sort of whiplash. Fury meets romantic longing, sneering meets sincere whispers, and calmer sounds meet the abrasion of others. And while that sounds like a large feat to mingle these opposites, illuminati hotties bounce between them with great precision.
Let Me Do One More starts at one of its many highs. Opener “Pool Hopping” oozes a glimmering exuberance with gripping guitar and cheeky lyrics like, “They said the water’s warm / But I’m not sure if you and I are.” With the catchiness of the most gratifying pop music and shoutable lines, Tudzin’s clever, often off-kilter humor is what ties the track together.
“MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” is a playful surf-punk song with peak Tudzin wit. She sings, “You think I wanna be a part of / Every self-appointed startup? / Every brand-approval markup?” In the bridge she cries, “Love me, fight me, choke me, bite me / The DNC is playing dirty / Text me, touch me, call me daddy / I’m so sad I can’t do laundry!” The track is one of many on Let Me Do One More that tackles hefty concepts with sly humor. Her high-spirited songs detour from the underlying weight of their lyrics,whether it be personal (“The Sway”) or political (“Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism”). The tracks themselves become quite holistic—the production and instrumentation complimenting the playfulness of each song, leaving them feeling full-bodied, rather than one-dimensional.
Tudzin’s wit alone is admirable. She proves, though, that her charisma is the most entrancing part of the music. Let Me Do One More exposes Tudzin’s more sentimental side, her humor mingling with emotional complexities. She’s raw, and lets this newfound intimacy flourish.
Not that the tenderness is ever easy—in “Knead,” a softer, subdued Tudzin is unveiled. There’s an edge to Tudzin’s sweetness—detailing a complicated relationship through crumbs and cupcakes, she maneuvers emotion with an offbeat poise. After frustrations and confusion unravel, a dominating guitar hijacks the track, as if giving Tudzin time to recuperate from her account of the situation. But the guitar isn’t enough to catch up with the whirlwind of intense vulnerability. Tudzin pants heavily, her exhausted satisfaction apparent.
Let Me Do One More is illuminati hotties’ first record from Tudzin’s own imprint, Snack Shack Records. Now with the liberation of controlling their own artistic ventures, it seems like business is finally catching up to their vision. As Tudzin increasingly unleashes her lyrics and production savviness with each release, it’s obvious that she will continue to pave the path she’s worked so diligently to create.
Ana Cubas is a music writer based in New York, who also occasionally dabbles in film reviews. Her focus is arts and cultural criticism.