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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Expensive - Single (2015)


Review By Robert Dietz

January 22, 2016

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Robert Dietz

Crisp percussion, tight editing, and infectious energy push the MIT Logarhythms's version of Tori Kelly’s Expensive a step above the usual. If there’s one thing the Logs have figured out how to do, it’s getting the most out of the studio. They know how to pick their collaborators (the top notch percussion and tightness come courtesy of Bill Hare’s mighty mix, and Alex Green’s intelligent edit), and they know how to give 110% behind the mic so that those post-production folks have something substantial to work with.            

Where the Logs come up short on this record is in the nuance department. There’s plenty of energy coming through the speakers, but not a lot of soul, dynamics, or anything to engage the listener beyond a head bop and a toe tap. The backing vocals are characterized by a rigid lack of smoothness that sounds more glee club than club remix. Energy is great (and is always preferable to a tepid performance), but the best tracks go beyond simply being energetic and inject a little style as well. To his credit, lead singer Ray Asare makes a noticeable effort to turn up the soul, bringing a lot of the flavor that the rest of the group is missing. Still, his effort is not enough to elevate the track on its own. 

Speaking of the lead vocal, the decision to have this song interpreted in a low baritone (soulful though he may be) is one of the more troubling aspects of this cover. Whereas her signature high belt marks Tori Kelly’s original, the easiness of the lead in this version really prevents the song from having any kind of arc or development. Even by the end when Mr. Asare is in his higher register, it naturally doesn’t have the same punch as the original, and suffers by comparison. 

Overall, the Logarhythms's take on Expensive is definitely entertaining and energetic, but not particularly nuanced or musical.    

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