Illuminati Hotties, an up-and-coming LA-based four-piece punk band created and fronted by Sarah Tudzin, released their second full-length studio album “Let Me Do One More” in October of last year.
This year they’re out on tour, and one of their stops has them headed to Fayetteville, to play with indie rock names like Katy Kirby and Fenne Lily at George’s Majestic Lounge. Before they get there, you should get to know more about them.
Tudzin is multi-faceted; she is an artist, producer, mixer and engineer who is based on creating uniqueness regardless of musical genre. She has worked with artists ranging from major names like Lady Gaga and Coldplay, to indie creators like Porches and Amen Dunes. She is armed with formal training in music production, audio engineering and songwriting from Berklee College of Music. This pairs nicely with her time spent as a production assistant to engineer and producer Chris Coady of Sunset Sound Studio. It’s no wonder that she has such a handle on her own project and sound.
Tudzin formed Illuminati Hotties in 2017 as an extension of her individual work to have a space to demonstrate her production and artistic abilities. In 2018 the band released “Kiss Yr Frenemies” as their debut, full-length release. It was met with general acclaim. In 2020 the band announced and released “Free I.H.: This Is Not the One You’ve Been Waiting For,” a very worthwhile mixtape.
There was some drama surrounding this release, with Tudzin participating in an interview with Stereogum that made it clear that the mix was part of an exit agreement to buy out her contract with Tiny Engines, the label the band had been releasing under. In 2021, Tudzin revealed that she had partnered with a new label, Hopeless Records, to create her own imprint label, Snack Shack Tracks. Their first release in this new era of Illuminati Hotties leads us to “Let Me Do One More.”
The album opens with high energy, “Pool Hopping.” The mood on this track is so infectious, and although the song’s lyrics revolve around being in the middle of a breakup (the kind where you’re not sure if you’re even actually broken up), the imagery also showcases the freedom of summertime rendezvous and emotional independence. Tudzin’s vocal performance is both clean and gritty in a freshly sexy, whiny way. She has an impeccable grasp on her delivery with her perfectly punctuating “uh-huh’s” and repeating “over, over, over’s.”
“MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” is a very interesting track as well, full of sharp instrumental punk rock contrast and sharp lyrics that contain funny quips and smart turns of phrase. “U V V P” is a song that feels like it would be the background music to a Y2K teenage rom-com during a first kiss scene, and it features a spoken word outro from Buck Meek of Big Thief amidst twangy, crooning guitar that breathes a whole additional layer of romance.
Not all songs are so driven though. The song “Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism” is much more sonically muted, although true to Tudzin’s lyricism its hook ‘The corner store is selling spit/ Bottled up for profit/ I can’t believe I’m buying in/ Isn’t that genius?’ is more of the sardonic sentimentality that weaves its way throughout the record. “Protector” is another quiet moment on an otherwise heavy-hitting record, it is a sweet moment of reprieve that explores a person that Tudzin is not sure is right for her, but still has a soft spot for.
The closer, “Growth,” is a soft-sung ballad of heartache; Tudzin’s delivery is raw and haunting-a very different vibe from the rest of the record, but still a dynamic demonstration of Tudzin’s abilities as a songwriter and artist. It’s a far cry from the youthful ideation from the front half of the record to find yourself listening to her whisper, “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.”
I don’t know that it fits in the tracklisting like it probably should, but I don’t find myself minding the stark contrast from where the album starts to where it ends. I think it may simply be more of a testament to where Tudzin has found herself in the process of creating this record.
All in all, “Let Me Do One More” is a compelling take on modern punk music, and it’s all thanks to Sarah Tudzin’s fresh and compelling vocals and lyrics paired with her masterful ear for production and gripping instrumental performance. I give it 7/10 and I’m waiting to hear what we get next from Illuminati Hotties.