By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Few pop rockers have as luscious, uniquely reassuring voices as Matthew Sweet and The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs. Their first collaborative album, 2006's Under The Covers, Vol. 1 remade songs from '60s artists such as The Beach Boys and Neil Young and was a moderate success, and so for the sequel they're harmonizing on tracks from the '70s.
Befitting that bombastic era, Under The Covers, Vol. 2 features guitar heroics and technical reproductions. But Sweet takes things a step further by faithfully imitating the idiosyncratic vocal inflections of these artists. Thus, "Here Comes My Girl" is full of Tom Petty-style half-talked, whiny wails and "All the Young Dudes" contains David Bowie-like sneering ad-libs. This is more eerie than interesting, and only Sweet's most dedicated fans will be interested in purchasing an album of karaoke.
More interesting, then, is when Hoffs puts her gender-bending spin on these mostly male performers tunes. "Bell Bottom Blues" is washed over with a tender, frail yearning, and her "Maggie May" is incomparably better than Rod Stewart's. The version is rangier, more empathetic and, let's be honest, it's fun to hear Hoffs sing a love song to a woman. Sweet himself would be wise to take such liberties with these standards.
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