ILLUMINATI HOTTIES – ” Kiss Yr Frenemies “

Posted: November 6, 2020 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
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When it comes to volume, Sarah Tudzin likes to keep listeners on their toes. “Kiss Yr Frenemies”, was her debut album as Illuminati Hotties, playfully leaps between a variety of decibel-dictated sonic moods from the indie-pop canon. Hushed acoustic reveries give way to knife-sharp stabs of guitar; contemplative, finger-picked tranquility crescendos to giant slabs of post-rock feedback and trumpet fanfare. “You only like me when I’m sad,” she sweetly sings during a quiet interlude on “Pressed 2 Death,” an otherwise boisterous rambler that’s dotted with kiss-offs.

Tudzin—who is technically Illuminati Hotties’ sole permanent member, although she records with a full band—is a veteran studio rat, and it shows in the album’s dynamic sounds. In addition to working as a production and engineering assistant to big-time indie producer Chris Coady (Beach House, TV on the Radio), she’s logged studio time with acts ranging from Porches to Macklemore and worked on the sound design for the original Broadway cast recording of Hamilton.

Her expertise gives her own tracks a funhouse-like quality, with an eruption of noise, six-stringed squeal, or purposely lo-fi effect around every corner. Even without knowing that additional vocals on the album are credited to “Everyone at Jesse’s Party,” you get the sense that she had fun making this record. Tudzin describes the sound of Illuminati Hotties as “tenderpunk,” and that feels right. Every emotional abrasion and pang of longing on Kiss Yr Frenemies is conveyed with just the right mix of sadness and acerbity. On the single “(You’re Better) Than Ever,” she confesses, “All the baddest words I knew came pouring out/When I heard you feel better/Better than ever.” Along with stylistic forebears Los Campesinos!,

Tudzin’s sound sometimes recalls indie-pop lifer Rose Melberg’s many projects, as well as 1990s Vancouver punks Cub—all acts that have regularly challenged the common notion that indie pop is all cloying sentiments and bookishly restrained instrumentation.


Released May 11th, 2018


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