“The harder I swim, the faster I sink…”
Back in May of this year, The Devil Wears Prada actually released a cover of Julien Baker’s emotionally haunting indie-folk tune, ‘Sour Breath‘. Despite the fact that I enjoy a lot of the metalcore bands recent material (from ‘Dead Throne‘ onwards), and that Baker’s latest LP, ‘Turn Out The Lights‘, was my AOTY for 2017, I was shocked I hadn’t found out about this cover sooner. In fact, the only way I learned of this different, heavier version’s existence was when a friend shared the band’s recent Audiotree live session on Facebook and said performance began with their heavier take on ‘Sour Breath‘. I may be late to the game on this but I don’t love it any less!
When first watching that video, as soon as the lyrics “I know you do better when you’re by yourself” soothingly fell from the mouth of guitarist/clean vocalist Jeremy DePoyster, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. With electronic loops, fluttering synths, atmospheric guitars, minimal percussion, and back-and-forth vocals between frontman Mike Hranica and Jeremy, the song then builds together exceptionally and into some earth-shaking crescendos. It creates such monumental dynamic when the band leans into these massive upheavals of crashing cymbals, passionate vocal performances, layered sounds, and some mighty big chords in the track’s second half. All ensuring that the core song’s presentation of holding up a happy facade, of hollowed-out love, of the fear of disappointing those closest to you, and of vastly self-destructive tendencies (somehow) becomes even more palpable.
This newer, heavier iteration of ‘Sour Breath‘ most certainly re-captures Baker’s emotion, desperation and pain in her original take. It just walks a very different musical route to reach that same moving point as Baker herself did so powerfully on her second album last year; it’s been done with real care. If anything, it makes me love the original even more and this cover has skyrocketed to the very top of my personal favourite Devil Wears Prada songs.
One great thing about this rendition is that it may also turn longtime TDWP listeners and younger metalcore kids who have no clue who Julien Baker is onto her minimal and beautifully heart-strung music. Given the honest heart and artistry of Julien Baker’s work, and with The Devil Wears Prada’s thoughtful interpretation and well-written arrangement here, it’s a win for everybody. In another wholesome point, apparently Baker herself used to listen to these guys when she was younger, so this might be one of those surreal experiences for her as a fan. As someone who enjoys both artists, it’s a dream I didn’t know I wanted to come true.
Re-visit or even discover The Devil Wears Prada’s take on ‘Sour Breath‘ below. Let’s hope that the band performs it on their upcoming Australian tour with Polaris in November. My fingers are crossed, anyway!