Music Reviews
Let Me Do One More

illuminati hotties Let Me Do One More

(Snack Shack Tracks/Hopeless Records) Rating - 9/10

In 2020, Sarah Tudzin freed herself from the shackles of her record label deal with Tiny Engines—wanting to disassociate herself from an imprint riddled with controversy due to dubious handling of contract agreements. Though she never outright disclosed how these issues personally affected her project Illunimani Hotties, she did agree to a cash settlement before getting into a potentially risky situation. Tudzin reacted by releasing her mixtape Free I.H. This is Not the One You've Been Waiting For—an unprompted, punk-driven kiss-off to fulfill her contractual agreement with the label for good. And though you'd think such a release would come with unwelcome baggage, Tudzin approached it the only way she could—with directness, force, and spontaneity that yielded uncommon depth.

Free I.H. was also too good to be linked to such unfortunate circumstances. It's exactly what you'd expect from the seasoned singer-songwriter, producer, and sound engineer, whose vast range of credits include everything from critical indie darlings (Slowdive) to radio-friendly megastars (Logic). Caught in between all that drama, Tudzin had been working since 2018 on what would eventually become her second full-fledged release. The cheekily titled Let Me Do One More stays true to Tudzin's self-proclaimed promise of delivering “all riprs and no more skiprs”—brimming with a joyful energy that feels equally confident and empowered. The album is a powerful declaration coming from a pop savant who is upping her songwriting chops behind deceptively simple songwriting.

Dating back to her debut album Kiss Yr Frenemies, Tudzin tends to find humor and heart in even the stickiest situations. She blends her unique perspective with a certain joie de vivre that is undeniably fun and infectious. So it's no surprise to hear her bursting with summertime energy on sun-dappled surf rockers like Pool Hopping, on which Tudzin keeps her options as she bounces from boy to boy, so to speak. But Pool Hopping is relatively straightforward compared to the atonal dissonance of MMMOOOAAAAYAYA, which, in true Pixies-like fashion, has Tudzin singing one non sequitur zinger after another over a sweet yet jagged melodic hook. The embarrassment of riches throughout is such that, once the delightfully crafty power-pop of Knead and Cheap Shoes hit you with Weezer Blue Album-era nostalgia, some were inevitably getting relegated to deep cuts.

But Tudzin, ever the versatile songwriter and performer, holds this diverse palette of sounds together in a thematic and cohesive style. In many of these songs, as raucous and unpredictable as they are, she is open to soaking up new experiences in real-time while navigating a rapidly changing world. The slow ballad Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism touches on that reality in many different directions. On the one hand, Tudzin reflects on the insatiable emptiness of consumerist culture and how it locks you into that cycle for better and for worse. While on the other, she slowly builds the track into a bittersweet crescendo, capturing the magic of a night that feels endless—like that feeling of hanging onto your youth with friends at your local 7-Eleven parking lot. Some of her retorts come across as satirical, but as the tender acoustic lullaby Growth attests, she couldn't be more sincere about the woes of modern living and relationships ("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.")

And so it goes, with Tudzin balancing impeccably produced high-octane riffs with resplendent melancholic reveries in striking new directions. In a time when the "rock" part of the term "indie-rock" has been stripped down to its bare essence or even stripped off entirely, she reminds us of how there are still ways to create emotional resonance without having to get so damn introspective. Let Me Do One More teeters betweens knowing jokiness and kindhearted vulnerability. And though she's shown these qualities before, Tudzin carries the weight of these emotions with a masterful command—embracing change and figuring things out as she fumbles along the way.