Note: this is the final installment in a series of “lost” posts originally slated to run in late 2011.
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Matthew Young of the Brooklyn dance band Body Language instantly caught my attention on “You Can” by being a dead ringer vocally for Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout. Anything that reminds me of Aztec Camera in any way, shape or form is guaranteed to make my heart very, very happy and this song is no exception. When Young’s voice curls around co-vocalist Angelica Bess’ in the smooth, soulful original version of “You Can” the way McAloon’s used to with Wendy Smith’s, the song sounds like an outtake from the 1990 Sprout album Jordan: The Comeback. Take your bows, Body Language, because in my book I’ve just paid you one of the highest compliments imaginable.
The Star Slinger remix of “You Can” ups the electronic quotient considerably. The song remains a catchy mid-tempo jaunt, but now it’s swathed in beeps and blips. The effect is an interesting one, as it takes a song that tips its hat to late-’80s sophisti-pop and makes it sound like mid-’80s Top 40. It’s Aztec Camera’s Love or Prefab Sprout’s From Langley Park to Memphis by way of Level 42’s “Something About You” and it’s pretty great.
Remixes often take a song and turn it into something unrecognizably different, which makes you wonder why the remixer didn’t just start from scratch with a whole new song. Star Slinger takes a different tack on “You Can” and amps up the elements that made Body Language’s original version special in the first place while adding new dimensions. “You Can” is constructed sturdily enough to support the added ornamentation the remix piles onto it because at its core it’s a sophisticated and well-constructed bit of pop craft, just like the musicians it recalls.
Click here to listen to the You Can single on Spotify.