Illuminati Hotties: Let Me Do One More

Although Let Me Do One More is technically the third release from versatile studio veteran Sarah Tudzin’s Illuminati Hotties project, it was originally intended to follow IH’s 2018 debut, Kiss Yr Frenemies. The story goes, after a fallout due to the withholding of royalty payments by the indie label Tiny Engines, Tudzin shelved Let Me Do One More to instead self-release a mixtape of sorts cleverly titled FREE I.H: This Is Not The One You’ve Been Waiting For. This ‘tweener record simultaneously served as a middle finger to Tiny Engines and a declaration of liberation for Sarah’s self-described “tenderpunk” band.

“Pool Hopping”, Let Me Do One More’s opener, is an upbeat and irresistibly feel-good moment that sets expectations high for the eleven songs that follow. The slick production makes the track more pop than punk and therein lies the key to Illuminati Hotties’ individuation. The quirky single “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” provides ample helpings of Tudzin’s lyrical irreverence. Here, Sarah shouts snarky lines like, “Love me, fight me, choke me, bite me, the DNC is playing dirty,” and “I guess I’m too fun, I guess I’m too funny, if you’re not laughing, baby, then you’re not making money.” Tudzin’s nasally delivery works to her advantage, giving the vocals an appropriately amateurish edge that contrast with her album’s comparatively polished sound.

The first third of Let Me Do One More is concluded with “Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism”, a ballad that pokes fun at consumerism as it relates to a relationship. Big Thief’s Buck Meek guests on “u v v p”. Utilizing a ‘60s girl group blueprint, complete with a snappy drum break and a spoken word moment from Meek, the song works well and is a standout side A moment. “Joni: LA’s No. 1 Health Goth” is Let Me Do One More’s centerpiece, and it serves as a welcome halfway reboot, rekindling the punk energy of the record’s opener.

“Kickflip” is by far the weakest moment on the album. It may have worked well in the context of a different collection, but here the song’s woozy chord progression and lazy climax, amounting to a shouted chorus of, “When every day is the same!” makes it an aberration among the otherwise solid songwriting. Fortunately, it’s kept to under two and a half minutes. Let Me Do One More’s penultimate track, “Cheap Shoes”, is the set’s last rocker. The guitar work here is the record’s best, providing a quirky, angular lead riff and a surprisingly unique and glitched-out solo halfway in.

Let Me Do One More is concluded with the ballad “Growth”. Sarah and her acoustic guitar go it alone with nothing more than a bit of reverb added for effect. In the song’s last minute, the guitar is silenced momentarily as Tudzin sings, “I guess being an adult, is just being alone, I’ll go back to the couch, let you stare at your phone, we’ll pretend this is normal, we’ll pretend this is growth.” The moment finds the singer emotionally exposed and vulnerable. It’s a profound ending to a largely decent record. Sarah Tudzin’s been through a lot both professionally and personally in the last three years. Illuminati Hotties’ Let Me Do One More is a fine third act that thankfully finds Tudzin’s project intact and on solid ground after a rough start due to no fault of her own.

Rating: 7.8/10

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