It’s an oft repeated trick. When it’s played with a straight face down the line, it works wonders. Nouvelle Vague took one of the anthems of 70’s Teen Punk Rebellion and turned it into a lounge room easy listen approximation in the vein of Music To Watch Girls Go By.
Playing both sides off against one another in such a blatant way has the same cool charm and cheek as Nina Gordon’s acoustic folk cover of NWA’s Straight Out Of Compton (featured way back when this blog was in it’s infancy). What they do here to The Undertones they do elsewhere on their albums to The Clash, The Buzzcocks, Public Image and Joy Division. See also The Cardigans and their obsession with covering Black Sabbath songs.
Sure this song was made famous in the UK being used in a commercial. Somehow that doesn’t diminish the fun cheekiness of what the band are doing here. They dig out the shiny little pop heart of each song they cover and smooth off everything else.
They apply cheesy, easy, breathy, twee French Girl vocals all over it and everyone raises their eyebrows.
It’s like the scene in The Great Rock And Roll Swindle where disco dancers are going around and around to a 70’s pop funk cover of Pretty Vacant. Well, except nobody is outraged and everyone is in on the joke.
I don’t know why but I think there’s something kind of punk about doing that.