Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner told SPIN recently he liked Drake’s great 2011 album Take Care. “I went to a Drake show in the rain in Hyde Park last summer, it was great,” he said, before singing a bit of “Marvins Room” and coyly suggesting he didn’t know the song by name. Somewhere along the line, the Mercury Prize-nominated rock group’s frontman must’ve gotten familiar, because today on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge, the Arctics covered “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” from the Canadian former child star’s upcoming Nothing Was the Same.
After the after-party strut of the Turner-led band’s strong new album, AM, that they could tear off an accomplished cover of this Phil Collins-smooth song is only predictable. And sure, indie guitar bands covering familiar pop songs except not quite as well is an annoying trend: Kings of Leon did a surprisingly fine job roughing up Robyn’s instant-classic “Dancing on My Own” the other day, and Low ably took a faithful crack at Rihanna’s “Stay” (via Stereogum), but Dirty Projectors’ disappointing version of Usher’s “Climax” earlier this year remains a cautionary tale — and at some point, you have to ask whether all this is necessary.
Leave those thoughts aside for now, though: Arctic Monkeys have done this well at least once before, with a revelatory Katy B cover that presaged their latest album’s crossbreed style. Turner’s band doesn’t change much about Drake’s original here, but they put its airy pull into their own recent greaser-swag language with festival-headliner precision; it’d be great to hear them start including this in their live sets. As a band, Arctic Monkeys have found their step, and — although AM as a whole may not always quite live up to its best tracks, like its text-speak Ur-text “R U Mine” — they’re in the home stretch.