Mazzy Star's breakthrough 1994 single "Fade Into You" has all the hallmarks of a song that shouldn't be covered. It's instantly recognizable for sure. The sort of tune that leaves little to no doubt in the mind of indie music fans who wrote it. But it's also an intensely personal number. One that has vocalist Hope Sandoval whispering her intent to give herself over to someone else entirely; to disappear without a trace. Set to David Robuck's leisurely sliding guitar, "Fade Into You" becomes a ghost story of commitment so cryptic that future retellings become nearly impossible.
I'm careful to say "nearly" because Brooklyn synthpop trio Au Revoir Simone has done a laudable job in narrating their own version of the 20 year old dream-pop standard. The group's been covering Mazzy Star's signature tune live for years now, so the move comes as no surprise to longtime fans of the group. To the casual listener though, it's something of a marvel. Aided by Strokes bassist Nikolai Fraiture, Simone's take simultaneously captures the haunted spirit of Mazzy Star's time while chugging along further into the past. Their luxuriating synthesizers call to mind 80s fare like "Take On Me" without the inherent cheesiness. Not unlike prime-era New Order, Heather D'Angelo's drum programming is unnerving in its metronomic quality. And then there are the vocals, which feel intentionally distanced. When they sing "you go in shadows" with a tinge of reverb, you can feel the darkness sinking in. Au Revoir Simone's well aware "Fade Into You" is an apparition and with their cover, they've conjured it all over again.
(You can listen to the band's studio version here and check out a live radio version of "Fade Into You" below.)