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Pitchfork reviews Pedro the Lion’s “Let Down”

Pitchfork’s journalist Ryan Schreiber wrote a review on Pedro the Lion’s ‘Let Down’ cover:

Any time an artist covers Radiohead, they are showered with publicity. This is no great secret; it’s an obvious and well-understood method of attracting an open-minded audience to your difficult or obscure music. The Flaming Lips, Brad Mehldau, and UMASS Front Percussion Ensemble have all greatly benefited from this tactic in recent months, gaining bonus fans on the strength of their drastic revisions of Radiohead’s weird-to-begin-with oeuvre.
Such a gambit would seem to make sense– at least on some level– for indie troubadour David Bazan. While never known for his dedication to unrelenting innovation, his music could well appeal to fans of Radiohead’s pre-Kid A work, particularly since he’s got a knack for convincingly passionate performances. What I can’t comprehend is why, on this cut from his band’s new tour-only EP, he wouldn’t give 100%.

“Let Down” seems a perfect match for his naked emoting, but here, he gives nothing– his read is totally staid, lacking any feeling or emotion whatsoever. In fact, I’ve rarely heard Bazan sound quite this bored– his bloodless rendition gives the impression that, if the song ever meant anything to him, it’s been lost over years of replaying. Even the band plays as if they’ve too-carefully studied their parts, resulting in a backdrop with all the intensity of a K-Mart karaoke cassette performance.

Naturally, this would be a setback under any circumstance, but that Pedro’s version is absolutely verbatim to the original doesn’t help matters. I can see this song meaning enough to someone that they wouldn’t dare to change a note for their own performance, but then, what’s to offer the listener? I can’t even begin to imagine why someone would choose to drop this on the stereo in lieu of Radiohead’s original, as the only real difference is a noticeable lack of conviction. It’s a terrible shame for the kid who drops his money on this disc expecting at least a little effort, but doubly so for the band, who stood to boost their waning listenership and blew it by coasting instead. [from pitchfork, thanks adrian & sarah]

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