Various Artists – The Con X Covers

The Con X: CoversOne of Tegan and Sara‘s many achievements over the past two decades was their fifth album The Con. It didn’t sell millions of copies but it did signal a new turn for the duo that directed them more toward the electropop sound they’ve become known for in the last 10 years, while holding on to their sometimes angsty, sometimes emotional, very often relatable lyrics. To celebrate the album’s 10th anniversary, they organized a covers albums with many of their friends and collaborators called The Con X: Covers.

Some of the songs stay pretty close to their original counterparts but many are reimagined with varying results. The Bleachers and City & Colour strip away everything on Burn Your Life Down and Hop A Plane respectively, leaving the intimacy of the original lyrics to cut through. When Dallas Green sings “all I need to hear is that you’re not mine,” instantly the original version by Tegan comes flooding back with all the old heartbreak attached. Alternatively, the new Call It Off by Chvrches adds unneeded atmosphere to a song where the lyrics are already so perfectly vulnerable. “I start to wonder if this was the thing to do” loses its impact unnecessarily masked by synths and reverb, marking the album’s biggest disappointment.

MUNA‘s Relief Next To Me is perhaps the closest any track comes to besting its original with its newly layered pop, Sara Bareilles truly makes Floorplan her own on this mostly stripped-down almost haunting affair, and Ryan Adams stays to the point with his grungy take of Back In Your Head.

The Con X: Covers provides a welcome refresher to the classic 2000s indie pop record. Of course, not everything works, but that isn’t a strike against the songs or the artists’ news covers. The benefit of a compilation album such as this is to provide a new perspective to long-familiar songs and add a new appreciation to them. If anything, it allows those of us who experienced our early 20s with The Con to imagine them again in 2017.

Four stars

Tracklisting
1. Ruth B. – I Was Married
2. MUNA – Relief Next To Me
3. Shura – The Con
4. Mykki Blanco – Knife Going In
5. Pvris – Are You Ten Years Ago
6. Ryan Adams – Back In Your Head
7. City and Colour – Hop A Plane
8. Kelly Lee Owens – Soil, Soil
9. The Bleachers – Burn Your Life Down
10. Hayley Williams – Nineteen
11. Sara Bareilles – Floorplan
12. Shamir – Like O, Like H
13. Trashique – Dark Come Soon
14. Chvrches – Call It Off

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