Bartees Strange – “Lemonworld” (The National Cover)

A couple weeks ago, Bartees Strange announced an interesting project: Say Goodbye To Pretty Boy, an EP of reimagined National covers. The idea stemmed from him attending a National show in DC last year, and he was struck by how few black people were in the crowd. His EP project has a sort of dual nature, then, digging into what he loved about the National’s music and sort of wrangling with them at the same time.

We’ve already heard his rendition of “About Today,” which was shared alongside a Strange original named “Going Going.” Today, Strange is back with another preview of the EP by way of his interpretation of “Lemonworld.” Though a relatively straightforward National track on its surface, “Lemonworld” was famously one of the more tortured aspects of the National’s process towards crafting High Violet, their big followup to Boxer. The band supposedly cut dozens of versions of the song. But you’d have to imagine none of them sounded quite like Strange’s take.

While Strange’s “About Today” was an atmospheric, restrained reading befitting the song’s emotional weight, his cover of “Lemonworld” is a bit more surprising. At first, he murmurs through the verses, floaty synths replacing the band’s guitars and a quiet, sputtering drum machine propelling the whole thing along. Then, the track explodes when he arrives at the chorus. Like “About Today,” “Lemonworld” is also paired with one of Strange’s own compositions, this one being called “HAGS.” Check them out below.

Say Goodbye To Pretty Boy is out 3/13 on Brassland. Pre-order it here.