It’s been over twelve years since Justin Timberlake released his debut solo LP Justified, (re)introducing himself to the world as a powerful solo artist who could ignite five-alarm funk fires and nail a brokenhearted ballad. “Cry Me A River,” though, always sat somewhere between those two extremes–a breakup song full of barbed-wire jabs at a soon-to-be ex, the song is both wildly groovy (thanks, Timbaland) and cripplingly sad. Over the years it’s become a pillar of Timberlake’s career–in recent live shows the song has swelled into a massive set closer loaded with horns and guitar solos. “Cry Me A River,” by all accounts, is a classic.
But what happens when another talented vocalist takes the song in a different direction? The world heard just that last night on the BBC when Scottish indie band Chvrches covered Timberlake’s track live on Radio 1‘s Live Lounge program. With a sparse handclap beat and dark synthesizers right out of a Cliff Martinez soundtrack, Chvrches’ take is a mighty impressive turn on “Cry Me A River”–vocalist Lauren Mayberry‘s unadorned vocal take strips the flourishes off of JT’s original lines and instead offers a wounded, cinematic plea. It’s as if Justified were remixed for a re-release of the Drive film soundtrack.
Chvrches have made clever covers a running thread of their career. Last year we heard them take on Lorde’s “Team” as well as Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope” with equally brilliant results. Listen to their Justin Timberlake redux below–we’ve got our fingers crossed for a full-on Chvrches covers album will someday see the light of day.