Illuminati Hotties Joyfully Stick It to the Man on 'Free I.H: This Is Not the One You've Been Waiting For'
Published Jul 17, 2020There are multiple reasons for releasing music, aside from entertainment and the satisfaction of connecting with people through creativity. Free I.H: This Is Not the One You've Been Waiting For shows how making music can be cathartic for an artist, a way of letting out inner bubbling emotions and throwing up a middle finger up to frustrating situations now in the past. In the case of L.A's Illuminati Hotties, this means fulfilling their contact with their label, Tiny Engines, after the company was accused of unjust business practice.
The overall mood of Free I.H feels very DIY. "frequent letdown" exudes pop-punk energy, with lyrics that are lighthearted but incredibly relatable for creatives: "I am no CEO," band leader Sarah Tudzin states, before exclaiming in a joyful, sing-song manner in the chorus, "I'm always letting everyone down / I'm always letting everyone know I'm down." "free dumb" follows with a similar message, the opening lines questioning the relevance of a career in the arts: "While the world burns up, could you care about a fucking record?" The track is more reflective, but in a rapid, noisy way, where the electronics buzz and trail out at the end.
The project was all written and recorded during three weeks in February, then mixed in March. This seemingly spontaneous creation period, and the fact that the record is presented as a mixtape rather than an album, makes the range of sounds explored throughout feel natural. "melatonezone" has whiny vocals and a playful burst of energy in the chorus reminiscent of classic Weezer, for example. "WATTBL" is straight-up angsty punk, while "content//bedtime" begins with crashing strums of guitar but continues with cheerleader chants and Tudzin ad-libbing things like "very good" and "it's exhausting, ain't it?" "reasons 2 live" is stripped-back and sentimental, but still retains the lyrical jokiness of the rest of the collection.
References to Tudzin's music industry complications are not explicit, but could be interpreted through the references to superficiality. It's the focus of "frequent letdown" and "free dumb," and is also found in lyrics like, "Everyone likes being around me / Everyone likes being around you more / Everyone likes following fashion / Everyone else likes everyone else much more" ("content//bedtime"), and the acknowledging of independence and self-worth in "b yr own b." The single, "will i get cancelled if i write a song called, 'if you were a man you'd be so cancelled,' is an unapologetic dig and, as the opener, sets a clear message for the overall mixtape.
All of this considered, the mixtape shows the fun that can be had with making a collection of songs — even when it's written to get out of a contract. Free I.H: This Is Not The One You've Been Waiting For is Illuminati Hotties defying the record industry while balancing purposefulness and playfulness at the same time. (Tiny Engines)