Alice Cooper’s “I Never Cry” is an undisputed rock n’ roll legend just as much as its composer is, and in their latest trip to the studio, Phoenix’s own brother/sister folk-rock duo Dorsten gives it a tasteful touchup fit for today’s discriminating generation of music connoisseurs. As one of the most recognizable songs from an unparalleled career in indulgent heavy music that inspired scores of artists around the planet, “I Never Cry” has been covered by a litany of musicians spanning genres, genders, and scenes, but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it played the way that Dorsten does in this version. It’s a smart rock cover if I’ve ever heard one, and it’s one of the more exciting folk releases out this April without debate.
Sophie Dorsten, who makes up the vocal half of this sibling pair, gives an emotional vocal here, and though it’s somewhat understated in the grander scheme of things, it nevertheless adds a texture to the final product that simply wouldn’t be there otherwise. It’s clear that both Dorstens have a lot of respect for Alice Cooper, and the integrity of this composition, as in even the most experimental moments within this single, they never dismantle the classic rhythm of the song. We flow with even more gracefulness than we did in the vintage cut released back in the day, only alongside a much more tempered vocal attack from a very ambitious singer.
This is a pretty minimalist arrangement on its face, but it works on multiple levels. The master mix is super-streamlined, and though it’s as sleek as anything currently dominating the FM dial, it doesn’t stop the undertow from really lighting up the midsection of the song with a lusty vibrato that stays in our heads long after the track has stopped playing.
There’s a lot of crossover potential with this single, to the point where I can see it being easily marketable to fans of pop, jazz, folk, and even experimental rock without having to give listeners some sort of context about Dorsten, or for that matter, the original version. The slinky tempo is dynamically wedged between the verses here, and while the vocals are always stealing the lion’s share of the limelight, they don’t take away from the fleeting instrumental prowess in the least. This song’s got the chops to satisfy hardcore music aficionados without overwhelming casual pop fans, and that’s more than a little uncommon nowadays in any genre of music.
“I Never Cry” is one of the classiest covers that I’ve reviewed in a long time, and while it would be a lie for me to say that I didn’t expect some great results from Dorsten in the lead-up to this review, I was blown away by how robustly faceted their most recent release is from start to finish. You’d be hard-pressed to find flaws within these exquisite beats and multidimensional melodies; there’s just too much effort put into both the production and the execution of the material for anything else to be the case.