Dark Horse - Single (2014)
Review By Robert Dietz
August 29, 2014
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There are few things I enjoy more than a good jazzy interpretation of a pop hit. Enter Sunday Afternoon to scratch my itch with a nifty spin on Katy Perry's Dark Horse. Of course the question must be asked: does Dark Horse in particular need to be given a jazzy spin? After all, not every pop tune stands up to the treatment. Sunday Afternoon makes a strong case for its vision but ultimately comes up a little short, mostly by throwing too many tricks into the mix.
Sometimes the tricks work. When deciding whether I like a re-interpretive arrangement, I tend to look at whether the changes enhance the original emotion of the song or present a compelling new feel to the listener. In the enhancement department, I enjoy the color palate of this arrangement. There are a good handful of crunchy reharmonizations, placed perfectly so as to bring out the dark feeling of the original. The singers do a good job leaning into these chord choices with their tone as well. For the first minute or two, everything feels nicely ominous.
The waters get murky when the groove shifts from a spacious half time to a four on the floor, and then to an electro stutter beat in the last 30 seconds. On top of that, the reharms begin to get a little tiresome in the back half of the tune, as they eventually stop feeling attuned to the mood of the song and in their repetition start to feel more like jazz for jazz's sake.
Ultimately, Sunday Afternoon's Dark Horse leaves me feeling intrigued but a little confused as to what kind of song the group meant for its version to be. There are plenty of cool tricks in this interpretation, but they don't all feel cohesive alongside one another. The end result is a mixed bag — and a track that feels interesting more from a mechanical perspective than an emotional one.