BY Rachel Wilton

Sorry y’all. This Like a Version came out a week ago, and I’m. Still. Not. Over. It.

I have been a pretty religious listener of Cub Sport for a few years now, and I, like others, have enjoyed seeing the band grow and change as the personal lives of its members and society have changed. I love these guys because they aren’t static. They’re not so concerned with their ‘sound’ that they are unwilling to move with times and trends. They keep their passion and feeling, yet manage to create something totally new with each album, and in this case, each new cover.

This article is going to pretty much praise their most recent Like A Version, covering Billie Eilish’s ‘When the Party’s Over’. Broken into seven 30 second sections, I’ll be making the case as to why each section is better than the last, and explaining why Tim Nelson is one of the greatest and most underrated singers of our generation. 

0 - 30 seconds

The visuals are the first thing you see, before any sound. The way front-men Tim Nelson and Sam Netterfield are sitting back to back provides an intimate setting. You can’t help but be intrigued as to how they’ll make this already great song their own.

The first notes ring out around the 10 second mark. If you’ve heard Cub Sport’s previous Like A Version covering Kanye’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ you know these guys can pull off a harmony. But there’s something different this time round - there’s something more than their regular angelic sound. They sound ethereal; it sends shivers down my spine.

30 seconds - 1 minute

The vibratttttto!

The falsetto!

So much is going on in these first few phrases. With each line, Tim steps it up a notch - quite literally with both volume and pitch. His ability to sing such gloriously high notes with conviction and clarity astounds me. However, even though he’s started high - he’s still keeping it soft, giving plenty of time and space for the song to build.

This is where you can start to see why Tim Nelson is objectively an incredible artist, stylistically and technically. I think when talking about the ‘greats’ of anything, one of the qualifiers has to be that they can marry technique and passion. Technique without passion is boring, passion without technique is messy. Tim Nelson is neither of these things; I think he’s a genius.

1 minute - 1 minute 30 seconds

One of the things I’m so glad this cover didn’t do was have heavy bass like the original. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about rounding out the bottom end of a song, and I can appreciate the ability of bass to act as a hook for songs (think Tame Impala’s ‘The Less I Know The Better’). However, I didn’t love the bass in Eilish’s original version of this song. In fact, I kind of thought it took away from the melody, and shone a little too brightly (or darkly) for the song. This is why I was so glad when those light electronic bass notes rang out here, but the main bass was mostly confined to the left hand of the piano.

This 30 second section of the song also gives us the first glimpse at the chorus - it’s soft, but it’s there. And you can’t help but want more - more volume, more energy, more build.

1 minute 30 seconds - 2 minutes

We’re getting to the halfway point now. Another verse, but this time with a little more gusto from Tim, and increased harmonies from Zoe. Tim starts to belt the end of this verse around the 1:50 mark, and you can just feel that the song is about to explode.

2 minutes - 2 minutes 30 seconds

WHAT. Just when you thought the song was about to go bang, they’ve stripped it right back down again. We’ve got those dissonant pauses, where all we hear are the ends of the piano chords ringing out. The next chorus is about to begin.

But wait - they’ve gone and done it. The big chorus is here. Not built up by a big verse. In that moment of quiet, where you’re not sure which way the song is going to go, Cub Sport surprise you with a heaving chorus from Tim, accompanied by a controlled piano and harmonies. Intentional or not, this works well.

2 minutes 30 seconds - 3 minutes

There is so much musical genius in each of these sections I can’t even begin to write about it all. First off, the line “Once we’ve both said our goodbye’s” is so raw it almost broke me. The harmonies that follow make it sound like there are waayy more than three singers. The final word of the phrase, “go”, is where Tim Nelson is at his very best - long notes with feeling and vibrato. He rounds off his notes so cleanly, you almost don’t notice they’ve stopped until you become aware of the silence.

This section is baffling, because from the very start of the song, I thought the ‘big’ moment would happen in a chorus. But I was wrong. I actually think this is the big moment. Not how we expected it, but this is where the sound is the fullest, loudest and brightest. It’s the point where you feel like the song draws you in the most.

3 minutes - 3 minutes 30 seconds

They’ve taken it all the way back to the beginning, to just Tim and the piano, and I couldn’t help but start feeling upset the song was almost over.

As with most covers, you have to first thank the original artist for their song, as they did the hard yards in composing it. However, you’ve got to give an equally huge props to Cub Sport for totally reshaping this song, making it their own and allowing it to shine in a new way.

The final note makes you want to rewind the song to the beginning and listen all over again. That’s exactly what I did - and that’s what you should do too.

Header image: Triple J/YouTube

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