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The Bloodsugars – Self Control [Engine Room]

June 5, 2009

Following in the footsteps of a collection of great artists, The Bloodsugars put their take on Laura Branigan’s 1984 hit Self Control.

You know the one: “Ohoho, ohoho, ohoho, ohoho, ohoho…I, I live among the creatures of night, I haven’t got the will to try and fight”, dark brooding video, lots of angst-filled staring and a seductive man with a white plastic face. Only the 80’s could have left us with such a fist-clenching, pompous masterpiece.

There are so many classic renditions of this song that The Bloodsugars truly are brave to have attempted their own cover. What with Ricky Martin’s Que Dia Es Hoy, a funky Spanish version [Youtube it, it’s brilliant], the 90’s German Goth duo Paralysed Age, who added it to their back catalogue amongst other great songs such as The Grave Shall Be Forever and Get Faster, Reach Devil and not forgetting the ear-molesting dance version by Danish band, Infernal [don’t Youtube this one, spare yourself…]. Wow, the standards have already been set so high.

New York quartet, The Bloodsugars, still have a lot to learn from Europop. They’ve toned down this over-the-top powerpop hit, added a great broken beat, lovingly kept a little bit of synth and made a song that you could easily put on repeat without fear of it burning your eardrums off.

Released through their record label, Engine Room Recordings, the song is a part of the second edition of the Guilt by Association compilation. A collection of covers of guilty pleasures by bands who don’t have to hide their faces in shame [yet…], the first compilation featured a brilliant Devandra Banhardt version of Oasis’ Don’t Look Back Anger. But this year the artists involved have really gone to town on the song choices. New Edtions’ Cool It Now, Ace of Base’s A Beautiful Life, Phil Collin’s In The Air Tonight and Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl are among those who have been given, in some cases, a much-needed facelift [In The Air Tonight is a bit untouchable and Brooklynites Takka Takka have only turned it into indie-drivel]. The album is also proof that, despite The Lowry’s best efforts, there is nothing you can do to salvage Toto’s Africa.

The Bloodsugars’ version of Self Control stands out. They’ve spun it enough to make it fit easily into their own melodic indie rock sound but it’s still a recognisable tribute to the original. But if they’re guilty of association with anyone, it’s the previous cover artists; they make the late Laura Branigan look like the NME’s Cool List personified.

[Originally reviewed for Avenue 61]

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