You don’t have to compose a song to feel the emotion flowing through its melodies, and listening to “Within You Without You / Tomorrow Never Knows” by Jeff Lake & Cellophane Flowers this summer, I feel like this statement is especially true. Most are familiar with both of these classic Beatles tracks in their original form, but under the command of these string players they become a magical medley you are certain to get excited about if you love iconic pop harmonies reimagined in a cerebral fashion. It’s as original as covers can be, and definitely cracks my favorite releases of the season to date.
Lake doesn’t go particularly hard at the verses in this single so much as he lets the words follow the rhythm of the instrumentation, as though they’re coming to us in a stream of consciousness format as opposed to a rehearsed one. It never devolves into amateurish jamming, but there’s certainly a freewheeling sensibility to this performance that makes me feel like it would be even more inventive if presented on stage, where the band could really be creative with the material at hand. I’d pay good money to see that, but for now, this track is a fine teaser.
This mix is one of the more strikingly physical I’ve sampled in a non-rap release over the past six months, but it isn’t so brawny that we lose out on any of the detail emitted by the instruments here. There are plenty of intricacies working to stack the harmony as high as we can handle it in “Within You Without You / Tomorrow Never Knows,” and while they might be a bit intense for the once-in-a-while pop lover, they were tailored to the needs of audiophiles like myself without question.
I would have liked just a touch more from the main vocal harmony here, but I can also appreciate what the minimalist aesthetic does for this performance – especially in regards to how we’re supposed to break down these lyrics. Rather than feeling like I’m just listening to someone else playing a Beatles song, it’s like I’m getting something singularly soulful and rooted in personal emotions and experiences, which is what I usually find completely missing in the cover songs I find. This is above the status quo by leaps and bounds, and I don’t see myself being the only critic to note as much this June.
Though I didn’t know anything about Jeff Lake & Cellophane Flowers before a colleague introduced me to this single just last weekend, I’m going to be looking out for more of their work in the future if they continue recording Beatles compositions with as much moxie as they have here. “Within You Without You” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” get a splicing in this performance that will leave your jaw on the floor no matter what your musical persuasion is, and if they’re just a preview of what could arrive next from this outfit, the best might still be yet to come.