Critics and fans debate over the best bands in history constantly, with one big exception – The Beatles are definitively one of the most well-liked acts of all time, and when trying to cover any of their songs, bringing a lot of talent to the table just isn’t enough. You’ve got to have a unique charisma and a keen sense of what The Beatles’ identity really consisted of beyond the surface level psychedelia they’re remembered for contemporarily.
Jeff Lake & Cellophane Flowers might not be a group you’re familiar with, but their cover of both “Within You Without You” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” inside of an elite string arrangement made to bend your mind on the spot could be one of the most interesting singles of its kind out this summer. In this combination of both tracks, Lake and his fellow string players are able to make the narrative their own, adding layers of spiritual kinship to the fold that might not have been as obvious to younger listeners unfamiliar with the setting in which much of this material was originally meant to be consumed. This is a deep take on iconic content if I’ve ever heard one before, and likely something you won’t soon forget either.
The string play, as it originates from five different sources in the mix, is powerful and strong enough to wipe out just about anything that gets in its path here, and yet it never swells to such a point that we feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of tonality in the song. The percussive element is larger than life even when it doesn’t need to be, creating a supple foundation atop which all of the melodic fireworks can shine brightly for all to enjoy.
There are a couple of moments in which I would describe Lake’s vocal as being a little more distant than it should be, but I don’t think this is an unintentional feature at all. Contrarily, it imparts a longing that we wouldn’t get out of the lyricism in this single alone, and truth be told, it makes every word he delivers authentic in a way totally unorthodox for pop singles of any era.
I’m usually one of the pickier critics around when it comes to covers, dismissing the majority that come across my desk as being but half-baked recreations of something we’ve already heard a thousand times before and, in some unfortunate situations, just as many ways. This is an instance in which the music is far too emotive and riddled with personality for me to even classify the finished product as being a cover in the traditional sense of the term; it’s Jeff Lake & Cellophane Flowers at their most connective and empowered, and I would tell anyone who loves good psychedelic pop to give what they’ve done here a close listen this month.
They’ve got respect for the classics they’re covering, but clearly are committed to doing their own thing both in the heat of a studio performance and through the artistic direction they follow overall.
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