New Music: Chromatics: "I'm On Fire" (Bruce Springsteen cover) [MP3/Stream]
It's surprising how little Chromatics needed to change about Bruce Springsteen's 1985 song "I'm On Fire" to make it their own. When Brighton, UK's Bat for Lashes covered the Born in the USA hit earlier this year, she slowed it down, muted the eroticism, and set the conversational melody amid eerie orchestration and stilted piano (Electrelane have also recorded the song and performed it live). Granted Best New Music honors today for their Night Drive full-length, Portland's Chromatics start with the basic elements of the Boss's original-- brittle electric guitar arpeggios, keyboards, and unobtrusive beats-- on this cover from their just-released "In the City" 12".
The tempo still comes down a bit, though. And Chromatics' minimalist take exposes more of the artifice of music-making; the synths sound like synths, instead of trying to sound like organs, and you can hear fingers sliding with every chord change. The biggest difference here is singer Ruth Radalet, her voice full of guilt, lust, and maybe a little resignation despite a limited technical range. She adds a compelling contrast to Springsteen's everyman rumble. Of course, the Boss knows about night drives, too.
Bonus: Here's the video for the A-side, "In the City", directed by Italians Do It Better mainstay Johnny Jewel (of Chromatics and Glass Candy). It was first posted to YouTube late last year.
[from the "In the City" 12"; out now on Italians Do It Better]