Aug 232023

“Lithium” is the third single from Nirvana’s Nevermind. Though less of a hit than the two previous singles, it is the band’s fourth-most streamed song to date, and is one of their most covered. The one-word chorus probably helps with that.

Lavalove are a California self-styled indie pop band that just released their debut album this spring.  But their cover of “Lithium” is not what you think of when you think of “indie pop.”

They begin the song pretty close to the original, but with a faster pace. The biggest difference at first is lead singer Tealarose Coy’s voice, which is bratty and a little affected in a way that doesn’t really fit the otherwise faithful grunge sound of the verse. (Coy’s professional name does justice to her delivery.) In the chorus, she is joined by backing vocals that, along with a double beat, give the song a bit of a pop-punk feel.

But the real departure, and the reason the cover is really fun, is what they do in the bridges. For the first iteration of the bridge, the distortion drops out the band vamps. Coy drops the “I’m not gonna crack” refrain from this section, just singing the first part of each line. She and the guitar drop out at the end, before the return to the verse. For the second bridge, there’s utter cacophony from distorted voices, one bringing back in the “I’m not gonna crack” refrain, and one that is indecipherable (and sounds like an atonal saxophone). It’s almost like a tribute to the noisier side of Nirvana.

It’s a far cry from “indie pop” – a cover that starts out sounding fairly faithful but then going off in some weird, abrasive directions in the bridge.

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