When is a cover song better than the original? Only you can decide. This week Zee Avi takes on Interpol’s “Slow Hands.” MAGNET’s Ryan Burleson pulls the pin. Take cover!
Despite the gloom often hovering amid Interpol’s music, there is often heaps of romance at play. Over the course of four LPs, the band has remained consistent in this, infusing shadowy, audio film noir and oblique lyrics that almost always hint at deep longing. “I submit my incentive is romance,” Paul Banks sings in “Slow Hands” as stoic and academic as ever, yet there’s no doubt that he feels just as crazy in love as the rest of us. But to go overboard would spoil the spirit and the polish of Interpol. Composure, for the quartet, has always been king.
Interpol wouldn’t be Interpol if it came across more vulnerable—the band is kind of stuck in that way—which is one reason we should be thankful that young songwriter Zee Avi shed a different light on Banks and Co.’s work for them. On her excellent cover of “Slow Hands,” Avi, who came to prominence on YouTube, completely deconstructs the arrangement and rebuilds it as if it were some lost, sun-drenched vocal-jazz classic. And yet the imprint of Interpol is left intact, as Banks’ lyrics are anything but generic. Testaments of love, it seems, come rendered in many shades.