Illuminati Hotties Challenge Expectations With Versatile ‘Let Me Do One More’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Photo by Courtney Coles

Sarah Tudzin started out in production and engineering, exerting her influence all over the alt-landscape, even contributing to the original Hamilton soundtrack, all before she tried her hand at songwriting. By 2018, she had released the debut from her project Illuminati Hotties, Kiss Yr Frenemies, one of that year’s best, and became a sort of overnight indie darling.  It’s easy to see why too, Illuminati Hotties make the kind of music you’d imagine the coolest 14-year-old girl in NYC listening to, a mixture of pop and punk without any of the baggage or cringe of the namesake. Tudzin is emotive and confessional, but never to a fault, always finding a way to bind her hooks with nostalgia and beauty instead of immaturity.

On her second album, 2020s FREE I.H: This is Not the One You’ve Been Waiting For, Tudzin lived up to both the title and the expectation of a new album, providing a great sampler of different styles and experimentation that fans may or may not have been hoping for. Released in part to relieve contractual obligations, it wasn’t until its follow-up, Let Me Do One More, that fans, for lack of a better term, got the one they’ve been waiting for. 

Here Tudzin’s explorations are less jarring and more meaningfully tied to their songs. When Buck Meek strolls into the country-tinged “u v v p” it feels like the song was waiting for him to show up. When the song dissolves into the understated and personal “Protector”, it’s hard to imagine another track taking its place. Let Me Do One More was released on Tudzin’s Snack Shack Tracks imprint, and of all her albums, this one feels the most tied to the present and her own impulses.  When Kiss Yr Frenemies first debuted, its detractors mostly admonished Illuminati Hotties for playing into the indie aesthetic amidst an onslaught of other cheekily named girl rockers. Two albums later and Tudzin has demonstrated her versatility behinds the boards extends to both her songwriting and her musicianship.

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