Valentine’s Day being only a week away, it’s not surprising to see artists reveal romantically-tinged tracks pressed and ready to go. This rings true for solo songwriter, The Corsican.
Premiering today on American Songwriter, “Love at First Sight” is the B-side to a Valentine’s 7-inch single from the experimental musician more widely recognized as Josh McKay of Deerhunter. And though the song actually pre-dates McKay’s career as a whole, one would be hard-pressed to think of The Corsican’s version as just a straightforward cover.
“This cover represents a longtime personal challenge,” he says of the 1982 single from fellow band-member-tunred-solo-artist, Stuart Moxham, who at that time went by The Gist.
Certainly there’s a degree of challenge by default that presents itself whenever a band or artist decides to perform and-or record another person’s song. At the very least, there’s learning someone else’s music. Then it’s about deciding what direction the new performance will go: Devoted emulation? Incomparably unique?
In general, the decision to do a cover is not one McKay takes lightly or something he goes into with a presumed sense of ease. “In my mind, a cover is only as good as the invention it brings to the material being adapted,” McKay says. For “Love at First Sight,” invention is the operative word and the reason behind its atypical ‘not-quite-a-cover’ characterization.
“I’m so in love with it,” says McKay. “But the impulse [to record the song] was galvanized by reading somewhere in an interview, [that] Stuart expressed remorse that he’d not had time to get a second verse together by the time his single was being recorded.”
It’s one thing for artists to swap gender pronouns in songs or change lyrics with intent to parody but it’s not often a song gets new life by way of completely new ideas after the fact.
“I set out to write that missing second verse and it eventually led to my reaching out to [Moxham] for permission to augment the lyric. After my demo reached him and I’d received a hearty ‘Crack on!,’ the fires were stoked for my Valentine’s coup d’etat,” says McKay.
The idea of love at first sight feels destined for warm, happy, and excited songwriting. However, The Corsican sings with a slow somberness that, when coupled with a prominent bass line and blanketing synthesizer tones, sounds like a performance from someone who has maybe had their heart broken more than a few times already. Still, the song exudes an alluring quality: reserved and slightly serious, like a busy, underground city bar. The Corsican comes off as a bit of a creatively inclined lone wolf here and in lieu of chocolate and flowers, who wouldn’t go for a bit of mysterious adventure instead?
Listen to “Love at First Sight” below, and if you like it, make the purchase on BandCamp: