BENJAMIN GIBBARD Bandwagonesque gets 9/10

Benjamin Gibbard
Bandwagonesque
Turntable Kitchen

9/10

People are cottoning on to the idea of covering a whole album. Ryan Adams has done it with his much rumoured version of The Strokes’ Is This It and more recently by turning his hand to Taylor Swift’s 1989, while the Newport Record Club have made it a local institution.

The good folk at Turntable Kitchen have put together a boutique project where a well known artist covers one of their favourite albums as part of their Sounds Delicious series. Previous entries have included Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado covering Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, and Yumi Zouma doing Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

The latest offering is Benjamin Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) taking on the 1991 Teenage Fanclub classic Bandwagonesque. The album was the one that first garnered Teenage Fanclub widespread attention, even though the four Scottish lads were still quite a shambolic proposition. Gibbard takes the distorted guitars from The Concept and replaces them with some keyboard drone, pinging guitars and a more breathy vocal to give the tune a sweetness that may be lacking from the original as it stretches to eight minutes.

I Don’t Know is given the most drastic work over with all the originals, fuzz replaced by a slinky baseline and jangly guitars. Gibbard manages to do the job of all four members of Teenage Fanclub, and offers a new lease of life to the tune. Some of the songs sound as if they were written specifically for Gibbard’s voice even though they were penned 25 years earlier.

Star Sign fits right in Gibbard’s pocket and Sidewinder suits the saccharine vocalist to a tee as well as giving him the opportunity to add his most inventive guitar work on the record. Pet Rock is drastically truncated to bring it under the one minute mark, while Gibbard’s deft touch turns Guiding Star into a more earnest plea with fine effect.

Gibbard says that Bandwagonesque came along at a pivotal time in his musical life and as such, is his favourite record by his favourite band of all time. He wouldn’t be alone in that assessment. Gibbard respectfully adds his own brand of sparkles to a record that was close to perfection to begin with. Bandwagonesque is not just one of the better reimagined efforts going around, it’s one of the best albums currently doing the rounds.

CHRIS HAVERCROFT

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