Available on: XL 12″

A musical handshake this, as Friendly Fires and Holy Ghost! cover each others’ tunes – ‘On Board’ and ‘Hold On’, respectively.

Both were defining songs for each group, but the similarities don’t end there. Both are songs which request an odd kind of romantic camaraderie, the notion of “please, let’s just keep going”. And they both deliver this with a hint of weakness and acceptance of delusion, “…if only for the sake of it”. So, perfect territory for some covers then.

It certainly would appear so. There’s a potential awkwardness in that perhaps the covers at times are actually improvements on the originals. Holy Ghost! take more risks, whilst the Friendly Fires version of ‘Hold On’ feels more like a homage. The ‘Hold On’ here is less snappy and holistically simplistic than the classic original, but essentially the same song, the only difference being that they let the chorus become loose-limbed and flouncy, only then to lock back down into a solid groove for the verses.

The Holy Ghost! production on the other hand has a sluggish bass wobble warping itself around ditzy synths, which creates an entirely new hook for the song. Whilst the original ‘On Board’ was a hushed, throbbing preen, this is all shy, gentle vocals playing equal part to cyclical, spiralling synths (much like the original ‘Hold On’…) with that sloppy bass always hovering above the track, repeatedly dipping in to stir things up. What’s interesting is that the innate swagger of both songs seems to have been lost in translation. It isn’t a case of each band simply switching shoes and speaking each other’s language; rather, both groups take the songs into a new loose, spacey realm. So instead of trading places, it’s a meet-up.

James Hampson



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