Scouting for Girls, an English pop band, are preparing to unleash some pent up momentum and energy in the form of a UK and Ireland tour, their longest ever, starting in September. In preparation, they have released a new album, Easy Cover. It features 8 tracks throwing back to their ’80s childhood and 3 original tracks inspired by those good old days. This is one of those albums released recently that can’t be taken out of the pandemic context. It was clearly formed as a response to the all-encompassing gloom and doom and as an attempt to provide a soundtrack to crawling back out into the light.
Scouting for Girls say it themselves:
We’re not trying to do justice to these songs! That’s impossible. We’re just trying to have fun and take them out on the road to give people the night out they deserve after 2020!
With that framing in mind, this (mostly) cover album delivers. Will it change your life? No. Is it earnest and feel-good? Definitely!
Scouting for Girls seemed to choose their track list like a friend group planning their first karaoke outing post-pandemic. To be clear, I think this is a good thing. Amateur karaoke set lists are important to me; there is a craft to it! They start off with some crowd pleasers, staying true to Tears for Fears and Cyndi Lauper.
“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is upbeat but lets the singer (and listener) admit a tinge of regret (a guitar solo is as good a time as any for some reflection). We’re glad that “nothing ever lasts forever” when it’s bad, but where has all that ambition to rule the world gotten us recently? “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” doubles down on that YOLO spirit people are feeling as hope creeps back in, perhaps with vaccines on the horizon. Piano power chords encourage us to sing along: “That’s all they really waaaaaaant. Is some fuuuuuuun.”
Then Scouting for Girls signal that this isn’t their first time at the mic by changing up Whitney Houston’s standard “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” just a little bit. The song starts a little mellower than we might expect given the previous song’s energy, joining the ranks of other somber covers of this song. The essential longing is still there, though we’re forced to contribute our own “don’tcha wanna dance, say you wanna dance.”
Now they’ve pulled us in, so they can transition into some feel-good hidden gems from lesser known British ’80s bands. The next three songs all sounded vaguely familiar to me, but I couldn’t immediately place them. They provide a good opportunity to deep dive into new pockets of ’80s tunes, though, freshening up those throwback playlists we’ve been leaning heavily on these days.
If anyone starts to tune out because of lack of familiarity, they’ll be drawn back in by the Phil Collins jam that also doubles as inspiration for a pun to name the cover album after, win-win. At first I was wondering why they didn’t just choose “In the Air Tonight” if they were aiming for feel-good nostalgia, but hearing “Easy Lover” reminded me how much of a bop this song is.
Scouting for Girls close out the cover portion of this album with an homage to the year we are trying to put behind us. Honestly, “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” has become so culturally relevant that I can see it becoming the new “Closing Time” to signal last call.
It may be the end of the world, but it isn’t quite the end of the album. Easy Cover ends with three originals that fit thematically and temporally with the ’80s covers. “Neon Light” definitely has a summer music festival vibe. I’m talking full-on glow stick headbands and lighters (or cell phones) in the air. Overall, I can already see the people swaying and singing along to these tracks live, turning the corner on a bleak year with some much-needed ’80s nostalgia. So mission accomplished, Scouting for Girls!
Easy Cover track listing:
- Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears cover)
- Girls Just Wanna Fun (Cyndi Lauper cover)
- I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Whitney Houston cover)
- The Whole of the Moon (The Waterboys cover)
- The Look of Love (ABC cover)
- Put the Message in the Box (World Party cover)
- Easy Lover (Philip Bailey and Phil Collins cover)
- It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) (R.E.M. cover)
- I Wish It Was 1989 (original)
- Neon Light (original)
- Xmas in the 80s (original)