Television / So Far So Good - Single (2018)
Review By Kyle Yampiro
December 11, 2018
The Brown Derbies recorded their take on Rex Orange County's Television / So Far So Good, which radiates with an aurally alluring smoothness emblematic of male collegiate a cappella. It's that same smoothness, however, that makes the song's explicit lyrics tough to sell.
Arranger Amit Chakrabarti sets the tone well with a major-major seventh chord (think: that jazzy sound) at the top and continues to dig into the meat of the song with his smart, simple voicing. Soloist JD Calvelli captures the chill, grounded essence of the sung parts of the solo. Add a strong kit of percussion by Leo Ko and excellent studio touches by Ted Trembinski and Eric Scholz, and the Derbies provide a slick few minutes of vocal music.
I have no issue with explicit lyrics in songs; the issue at hand is how jarring they feel. Explicit language typically comes with an emotional intensity that both justifies and amplifies them. In the case of this cover, the explicit words in the spoken solo section sound casual, if anything, negating the need for and appropriateness of them. The original song toes that line but achieves that intensity musically with its percussiveness. In the Derbies' cover, the pre-chorus background vocals on "bah" syllables don't have a natural explosiveness from the background vocalists. While this is aptly compensated for in-studio, that energy pales in comparison with the percussion driving the original song, and it does not set the stage for the invocation of the strong language in the latter half of the piece.
Minus that lyrical quibble, there is a lot to enjoy here. For an enticing, catchy, and even groovy three-plus minutes of music that's easy to enjoy on repeat, this cover of Television / So Far So Good has what you're looking for.