Vukovar – Fornication
DL / Cassette
31 December 2016 / 1 January 2017
9 / 10
Post-punk neo-folk trio release a collection of stunning cover versions. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.
There can be little doubt that Hurt by Nine Inch Nails is an incredible song but, Johnny Cash’s cover is often cited as the better version. It’s quite a claim, but it does add several new dimensions to the track as a dying man offers remorse and sorrow as his life draws to an end. There can be only two acceptable reasons for offering a cover – a) to better the original, or b) to offer a new version so far removed that it takes on a life of its own (see Prince’s Kiss ‘reinterpreted’ by Age Of Chance). On Fornication, Vukovar often achieve both.
Thirteen tracks with incredibly ranging roots from Billy Fury to The Velvet Underground, from The Shangri Las to The Birthday Party, are (un)systematically ripped apart before re-assembling as though they had never been heard in the first place. It’s a brave move but one which the St Helens boys carry off with seeming ease.
The cover of Laurie Anderson’s O Superman is nothing short of inspirational. The gentle vocal repetition from the original is replaced by a constant percussive tap with distant voice echoing in the background. The sound of the jets is still there albeit in a more aggressive sense and the spoken letter to Mom and Dad remains but, the punkesque approach makes it a song of their own.
Eva Braun (The Screamers) is moved from an electro punk track to a far more organised version but still carries the wonderful bassline and, The Birthday Party’s Loose (itself a cover of the Stooges) is also given a new treatment which sees the reverb and chaotic vocal remain.
The theme of ‘softening off’ each track runs through Fornication creating a dark, haunting, often fearsome tract. The Velvet Underground’s Lady Godiva’s Operation is instantly recognisable but has an increased eeriness and Meet Murder My Angel from the criminally underrated Soft Cell album This Last Night In Sodom continues the black outlook.
Closing with perhaps the bravest cover on the album in Coil‘s Sometimes (aka The Gimp), one can’t help feel that Fornication is somewhat of a triumph. It’s not your conventional covers album, instead it dares to be different and in doing so not only pays tremendous homage to the originals but also sets the standard very high in terms of their own uniqueness. A sell-out? Far from it. This is wonderful stuff.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on Twitter here, and on Facebook here. You can also follow him on Twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news.