illuminati hotties – ‘Kiss Yr Frenemies’

By Andy Joice

Some bands create noise. Others create music. A minor few create art. And for Sarah Tudzin, the engineer, producer, and mastermind behind illuminati hotties, she’s firmly in the last category.

Despite being a pluralised nom de plume, illuminati hotties is a creative outlet for Tudzin, the self-proclaimed burrito-aficionado. Having roped in her bffs to creating a rotating line-up of musicians, she’s locally been lauded as a pioneer of “Tender Punk” and it’s a genre she sits comfortably in.

Since lead single, ‘(You’re Better) Than Ever’, the first track from ‘Kiss Yr Frenemies’ was released, the comparisons with Courtney Barnett, Soccer Mommy and Angel Olsen have been rife. Channelling Barnetts surf punk style with a gentle vocal delivery, peppered with ‘ahhhs’, jangled guitars and glorious melodies, it’s the perfect entrance into album. Saccharin yet ferocious. Tongue in cheek with a hint of sincerity.

With age on her side, Tudzin, who’s in her mid-twenties, manages to convey the anxieties of growing up in modern culture. With ‘Paying Off In Happiness’, Tudzin portrays the struggles of debt, both financial and emotional. The mounting pressure of keeping yourself spiritually solvent is a feeling we can all relate to, and Tudzin manages to encapsulate it in an earnest and relevant way. ‘Cuff’ follows a quiet/loud/quiet pattern between verse and the catchy chorus, atmospheric one minute, deafening the next while ‘Pressed 2 Death’ is an ode to only being wanted when she’s sad. There’s a sense of loneliness throughout that’s juxtaposed by the frenetic, true punk nature to the track.

Whilst Tudzin’s voice isn’t quite a powerful as Screaming Female’s Marissa Paternoster or as distinctive as Eva Hendricks of Charly Bliss, there’s a subtle grace to her delivery. The almost whispered approach lends itself perfectly to the tender punk genre, where every line is an exhale of the soul. No track exemplifies this as much as closer track ‘Declutter’. A stripped back affair, held entirely with soft piano chords, Tudzin leaves herself bare. Hearing the creak of the pedals, you almost hear her heart break as she sings. The sort of song that could bring a grown man to bawl on a bad day, it’s the perfect way to end a generally upbeat, thoughtful album.

Effortlessly sweet and engaging, ‘Kiss Yr Frenemies’ is the sort of album you could hear through the trees and across the waves, if only you could block out the dull hum of life.

ANDY JOICE

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