Like everything else in this bleak, mixed-up world, the year in music wasn’t quite as normal as we would’ve wanted. While 2021 didn’t see the kind of indefinite album postponements that marked last year, the year also had a weird imbalance in what music was released in 2021. Usually, the early Summer is the busiest time of year (at least for me) in terms of anticipated new albums coming out, and while there were a few of those this Summer, I actually found more music that I liked coming out in the other parts of the year.
The first half of 2021 wasn’t half bad, as I found plenty of albums enough to my liking worth writing about at the year’s mid-point. Meanwhile, there have been a flurry of albums to come out in the last month or two that I haven’t spent nearly as much time with. So once again, doing these short, stupidly-named yearly wrap-up reviews will hopefully give me more reason to catch up with some recent stand-outs while teeing us up for our end-of-year lists.
In my memory, this album came out in the Summer, but apparently it came out on October 1, which despite what our ever-elongating warmer months tell us, is not in fact the Summer. I also have to imagine that I assumed this was a summer album because it is maybe the most fun album I heard all year. That, of course, is not a high bar to clear considering the majority of albums released this year were either recorded during or heavily informed by the craptacular pandemic era we’ve all endured. You can’t help but get the sense of this informing plenty of Illuminati Hotties’ latest album, as there is a kind of snotty fatalism behind the tasty guitar licks and upbeat melodies.
Some of this irreverent fun must be due to Let Me Do One More being the product of a musician newly freed from a somewhat messy public parting with her previous record label. Last year’s FREE I.H. mixtape was a not-so-subtle jab at Illuminati Hotties’ former label Tiny Engines, while employing a decidedly uncommercial sound even for the untethered freedom of indie rock. It was an album I found a little abrasive and alienating (which was probably the point) even for someone like me who really enjoyed Sarah Tudzin’s first release as this project, despite the questionable name.
This latest album was released under Tudzin’s own imprint, and while the same formula of all-over-the-place indie rippers isn’t that different from Kiss Yr Frenemies, it’s a little more confident here. Some of this manifests itself in uptempo rockers like opener “Pool Hopping” or “Cheap Shoes”, which don’t sound that far off from the types of indie-pop that used to make it into car commercials in the ’00s, just with a little more edge. Still, this is a pandemic era album, so it inevitably has some more mellowed-out, introspective tracks, and considering the behind-the-scenes journey Sarah Tudzin had to go through to get there, they feel well-earned.