Say what you like about Saul Adamczewski and Ben Romans-Hopcraft but they are nothing if not consistent. Having released their first record as supergroup Insecure Men back in February, which we called, “A record that feels both personal and utterly bombastic”, as well as a record with Warmduscher in June, they’ve dominated the music scene with their eccentric pop. Now, bizarrely, they’ve returned with Karaoke for One: Vol. 1, a cover album which takes on classics such as Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Streets of Philadelphia’, The Pogues’ ‘A Rainy Night in Soho’ and, erm, Peter Andre’s ‘Mysterious Girl’. With a brilliantly eclectic mix of cover songs, Karaoke for One: Vol. 1 provides for an entertaining, and brilliantly unnecessary, 30-minute record.
“This album should only be listened to poolside,” Saul Adamczewski said of the record, before adding “whilst weeping into a shandy. I can only apologise for ‘Mysterious Girl’. The struggle continues”. Cover albums can often be seen as a cash-in opportunity but when it comes to Insecure Men, a band that have never taken themselves too seriously and have always strayed away from the mainstream, it doesn’t come across as ingenuous at all and, rather, adds to the Insecure Men back catalogue quite cleverly.
This is because most of the covers are obscure gems that they’ve worked into their own disparate world. While the album opens with the big-hitters: a gloriously short cover of The Carpenters’ ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’ that is pretty much cut in a half and a superbly tongue-in-cheek, lo-fi take on Peter Andre’s annoyingly catchy ‘Mysterious Girl’, the further it continues through the track-listing the more obscure it gets. So much like David Bowie’s Pin Ups which introduced people to the worlds of The Merseys and The Easybeats, Insecure Men have taken on obscure cuts from the likes of Abner Jay and Blaze Foley and made them their own.
However, nothing gets close in terms of quality to their cover of Dr. Feelgood’s ‘Roxette’. A wonderful synth-heavy track, that recalls their wonderfully weird slant of pop music from their debut album, it’s by far the best and most playable track on the record. Once again, the band have experimented with genres and a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ is another surprising highlight. There aren’t many who can take on The Boss, but Adamczewski’s lowkey take on the classic track arguably brings something new to its melancholic lyrics.
Karaoke for One: Vol. 1 was always a strange idea, but if we’ve learnt anything from the Fat White Family meets Childhood supergroup thus far, it’s that they love to revel in the eccentricity of music. Arguably working as a companion piece to Insecure Men, Karaoke for One: Vol. 1 works because of the brilliant choices on offer and the duo’s unique talent at bending genres for astonishing effect. This could be one of the best surprise records of the year.