An unsettling but frequently enjoyable covers collection...
'Karaoke for One: Vol. 1'

You type ‘Mysterious Girl’ into Spotify, tap the first result, ‘the one’, and sit tight as Peter Andre worms his way into your head. You’ve well and truly succumbed and you get through remasters, radio edits, extended mixes, live recordings, maybe an instrumental, other covers and some songs with similar titles. You can’t stop.

Eventually, you get to Saul Adamczewski’s version, the centrepiece of Insecure Men’s ‘Karaoke for One: Vol. 1’. It’s a bold undertaking, for sure. Others have tried to cover the song before. Who could forget those two brothers on X Factor 10 years ago? One, cloaked in lads’ mag skeeviness and gunked up with VO5, crooned, while the other, who looked like he was on the CeX payroll, adlibbed and stuck his neck out by repeating “come on move your body” at intervals.

The rendition we’re dealing with at present drops that embellishment and Bubbler Ranx’s rapping on the original, bringing in a rudimentary drum machine and synth combo to which we quickly grow accustomed. Elsewhere, Adamczewski offers a less gruff take on ‘Streets Of Philadelphia’ and ramps up the sleaze on ‘Roxette’, which gets its momentum from the gleefully excessive use of echo (cf. ‘Madame George’), and he ropes in Alvin and the boys on ‘She Thinks I Still Care’. The production tends towards ‘stripped-back’, while his vocals veer between tenderness and weekend karaoke- drunkenness.

On ‘I’m So Depressed’, he starts feeble in that ‘there’s just got to be something autobiographical here’ kind of way but on ‘A Rainy Night in Soho’, he’s comfortable, confident. He’s brought together a disparate range of songs, stretching forth from Abner Jay to P. Andre, and made them his own. ‘Picture Cards Can’t Picture You’ is unassuming and slightly more faithful to Blaze Foley’s original, swerving away from the album’s dominant synth-led approach, and is accordingly one of the album’s least satisfying moments.

While some of the record’s MO could be termed ‘Making crap songs less crap’, it’s not so clear-cut for the rest. Most of these songs were put on Soundcloud (“the lonesome sound of saul and his yamaha pss- 560”) a while back but, spurred on by J Spaceman, they’ve been beefed up.

Yeah, in its totality, it’s not going to ‘do much’, but it’s certainly got more longevity than anything by The Metros. It doesn’t have the squalid expansiveness of February’s ‘Insecure Men’, but rather a singular, kitschy charm of its own. It’s unsettling, but Adamczewski has form in this regard, and here he goes out about it more obliquely and probably with a decent-sized smirk on his face. What’s on Vol. 2?

6/10

Words: Wilf Skinner

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