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The XCERTS - 'So No One Told You Life Was Gonna Be This Way' EP Review


1. We Built This City

2. I Wanna Be Sedated

3. Complicated

4. Inbetween Days

Scottish Alt-rockers The XCERTS are gearing up to release a covers EP, 'So No One Told You Life Was Gonna Be This Way', putting their own spin on songs they love and take comfort in. In the words of frontman Murray Macleod, “during this time the lyrics have presented themselves in a different light and each song has taken on a whole new meaning. We wanted to document this time somehow whilst we drive ourselves up the wall waiting to record our next project”.

First up is their rendition of Starship’s ‘We Built This City’, which in true XCERTS fashion, slows down the pace and turns this upbeat 80s classic into something more introspective and haunting, completely reinventing the song. Macleod said “We, along with so many others are feeling the effects of not being able to work within the live sector of the music industry and lines like 'we just want to dance here, someone stole the stage' / 'who rides the wrecking balls into our guitars?', really hit differently now.” making the song a sort of anthem for the performers who are struggling within the pandemic.

Next up is The Ramones’ ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’, one of the bands most well known songs. Like ‘We Built This City’, the band take this song and make it more downbeat, reflecting the state of the current world we live in, pretty much removing any aspect of Punk from the track. Instead, there’s acoustic guitars and what even sounds like a lap-steel (although I could be wrong on that one). It sounds completely different to the original, but once again sounds more like an ode to live music. It strips away the Punk sound, but the way they’re itching to get back to performing is definitely “Punk as fuck” as they put at the end of the track.

Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’ follows, which is a duet with the artist Heights ( Whereas the first two songs on the EP completely change the vibe of the songs, I feel like this one is more faithful. Like the other tracks, it’s slower and more stripped back than the original, but this just enhances the emotion that was already present in the original track. Macleod’s voice plays so well with Heights’, and provides a really good, emotionally charged duet, especially on the second chorus.

The final track, a take on The Cure’s ‘Inbetween Days’, which is the most faithful cover on the EP. It keeps the upbeat feel of the original, even replacing the acoustic guitar of the original with electric, as well as turning the original synth line into a guitar riff. Macleod doesn’t stray too far from Robert Smith’s vocals, but his distinct Scottish twang is a welcome addition to the song. The only extremely notable addition to the song is the end, where Macleod sings the beginning of the theme song for Friends, hence the title of the EP.

There are only really two ways to do a cover; stay faithful to the original or make it completely your own. These can be done to varying degrees of success, but The XCERTS have definitely done a bang-up job with these four covers, showing that they can stay faithful to a song or put their own spin on things, and both provide an equally great result. I’ve got a soft spot for The XCERTS, given that they supported Twin Atlantic, the first gig I ever went to without any parental supervision, so I look forward to what they have to offer next year when they release more of their own original music.

Review - Gordon Rae


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