After years of uncertainty including label disputes, unpaid royalties and a surprise (and successful) album drop,And she is ready to make some noise. Her new album Let Me Do One More is three years in the making and Tudzin’s most defiant and accomplished record to date. Let Me Do One More will be out on October 1st via Snack Shack Tracks (in partnership with Hopeless Records.)
After the success of her debut album, Kiss Yr Frenemies, and coining the term “tenderpunk,” illuminati hotties were on their way to recording and releasing a highly-anticipated sophomore album. However, things at the label started to fall apart, and illuminati hotties found themselves stuck in a contract with a label who didn’t have the infrastructure to put out the album the band had been crafting for months. “It felt like any momentum came to a screeching halt. It felt painful to pick up a guitar, to write, to record any loose ends that needed to happen to wrap up the album,” Sarah recalls.
With the emotional turmoil and uncertainty building over the label situation, Tudzin turned her focus to a new batch of songs that would become FREE I.H. Funneling all the raw feelings and letting go of any inhibitions, illuminati hotties released the collection of songs, carefully not defined as the “new album.” The critically-acclaimed, fan favorite, release closed the chapter on the label drama, and opened up the band musically to a whole world of possibilities.
The positive response to FREE I.H. brought back the energy and intention that had seeped out after the label fallout, and Sarah dove straight into the new album, Let Me Do One More. According to Sarah, “The songs tell a story of my gremlin-ass running around LA, sneaking into pools at night, messing up and starting over, begging for attention for one second longer, and asking the audience to let me do one more.”
With the album shaping up, Sarah knew that she didn’t want to sign a traditional label deal anymore. After all the work to get herself back creatively, she wanted to maintain as much autonomy and creative control as possible. She started an imprint label, Snack Shack Tracks, and partnered with Los Angeles-based, independent label, Hopeless Records. Together, they’re gearing up to release Let Me Do One More.
While FREE I.H. felt like an experimental conduit for self-expression at breakneck speed, Let Me Do One More is the fully-realized creative vision of two years of ambition, heartache, uncertainty, redemption, and ultimately triumph. Sarah reflects, “I love these songs and they’re a part of me and I’m proud of them.”
I have this pal who insists that all writers, all makers, all people who put anything in the world outside of themselves – we should all come to terms with the fact that nothing we do is finished. An acceptance, this pal says, that will bring so many of us closer to contentment with the fact that we sometimes age beyond whatever it is we create, and there’s no real way to adjust for that except to honor our emotional evolution and the work that allowed us to crawl our way towards it.
I’m not always invested in this idea as I should be, admittedly, but there’s something I love about knowing that the work can be revised as I revise the self, or that old work can be tended to in the search for new work.
But before I get into all of that, the high-reaching impact of aging beyond our creations and aching for corrections before they slip through their fingers, let me say that most importantly, I love any Illuminati Hotties album because Sarah Tudzin is one of my favorite types of writers: A writer who takes their craft seriously, but refuses to take themselves seriously. It is an achievement for album to hold a song as fluorescently tender as “Threatening Each Other,” teeming with an ever-growing longing and also a song as raucous and thrilling as “Pool Hopping,” which feels and sounds like the unfurling of a mischievous summer’s night with nothing to do other than cause some trouble with yourself and a small and eager crew.
To retreat to my initial point, though, what makes this album even more of an achievement is how the album arrived in the world and what it carries with it. For those who fell in love with Free I.H., as I did, you perhaps were drawn to it, as I was, by the miracle of an album that sounded unrestricted and autonomous. Not messy in an unrefined way, but messy in a way that was held up by risk-taking, and discovery.
To have that album and all of its brilliance exist by way of exit from a sticky and untenable label situation led Tudzin back here, to these songs that were, largely, written and put together before Free I.H. was made. But this is how the process works when it comes to the creation of almost anything: the work makes a path to the work. It’s unromantic, probably. But with any luck, every time any of us sits down to create something, we walk out of it a little better or a little more skilled or a little more tender than we were before. And, also with any luck, we get to take all of that back into the world.
All of this brings me to the somewhat joyful act of revision as a tool not to correct your past self, but to revel in what you’ve created, what you are capable and might not be capable of again, with the reality that nothing is promised. It might be the darkness of the year – leaving me with no choice but to seek optimism around every corner – but Let Me Do One More is an album that sounds, to me, as hopeful and thrilling as newly discovered freedom. The lock you’ve been picking at for hours, finally falling to the floor, and the door opening to the weather you love most. Even the songs that sound winding and beautifully anguished, like “Kickflip,” feel like a release. To say nothing of the slow-moving cocoon-like nature of “Growth,” which encases me in something that feels like warmth. I love an album like this one: an album that doesn’t spare any complexity but still manages to be life-giving, and oh, how it is needed now.
Before even pressing play on the music, I suggest sinking into the title. If you, like me, are a sucker for titles and the joys of what they can hold. You might be like me, in that you maybe know a pal or love a pal who knows how to pull a night past whatever its logical ending point may be. The person who, when you are exhausted and dragging at 2am (though I am being generous to my present self here, it is more like midnight these days) turns up the radio and encourages a singalong, or finds a bit of mischief to collapse into right at the last minute. I’m thinking of those people now, the people I love, aching for a little more time together, a little more moonlight and a little more of the possibility it brings.
The outdoors are treacherous and in many ways untenable at the time of writing this, though I am trying for optimism. I love this album beyond its title, but I love its title for what it awakened in me. The memory of a different time, when touch was not at a premium. A time that might be slightly obsolete by the season you spin this record in. A time when I’d hear Let Me Do One More as a small and affectionate ode: let’s stay together a while. Let’s share something else. I’m not done yet.