Owen Pallett covers the strokes
Owen Pallett – “Hard To Explain”
Is This It is one of my favourite records of all time. I like a band when they’re metronomic with zero dynamics, and they never play the chorus more than twice, and when the vocals are buried. It sounds like efficiency. I read a quote, once, from Regina Spektor, in reference to Is This It:
The thing that blew my mind first hearing the Strokes was that they were the closest I had heard rock come to classical. Their music is extraordinarily orderly and composed.
I post on several message boards — less these days, but still on occasion. Spektor’s statement, which made instant sense to me, was the source of lively online debate. Essentially, people disagreed with Spektor’s quote. What followed was a firestorm of criticism, and many things came into question, from Spektor’s familiarity with rock music to begin with, to the worth of “classical training” in the pop context.
A user named Nabisco posted this in Spektor’s defence:
So far there’s like one person on the thread who’s actually bothered to spend half a second thinking about what [Spektor] seems to mean. (…) As of the first couple albums, at least, there is something almost insanely orderly about the Strokes’ eighth notes, in a way that’s pretty much the opposite of the “raw sloppy rock” tag they once got. I seem to remember Tom Ewing saying it was no surprise to have a drum machine on “Hard To Explain,” since the band always played like they were machined and sequenced anyway. It makes sense that this would be what Spektor means when she says the band is “like Mozart”. (…) It would be nice if there were ever any pull on [this message board] to look at something with the expectation that maybe — just maybe — it will be useful for something better than eye-rolling.
When I was asked to cover “Hard To Explain,” I remembered Spektor’s comment and Nabisco’s response. I re-imagined the Strokes as a piano quintet, and had us all playing hard, fast and mechanical. I can’t sing it as well as Julian, but he’s a really good singer — I think he had might have had lessons — not that it matters.
- Owen Pallett