Adem – Takes

"If I was to be critical of Adem rather than his song selection, it’s that I think he needs someone to shake up his sound a bit."

Adem – Takes


I feel rather sorry for Sam Jeffers, drummer in Fridge. He doesn’t get much help from his fellow band mates – Kieran Hebden works with Steve Reid and Adem decides not to bother with a drummer at all on his new album Takes.


Takes is an album of cover versions – hence the name. There’s a lot of it about at the moment, what with Cat Power and Vetiver, not forgetting the genius of Bonnie Prince Billy who even covered his own music.


Adem has chosen to cover music that has meant something to him over the years. It’s necessarily a bit of a mixed bag, dependent, in large part, on the songs he’s chosen to cover.


It kicks off pretty well with a cover of Bedhead’s Bedside Table. The usual Adem sound palette is in operation on the album – acoustic guitars, glockenspiel, double bass and so on, but he’s also fleshed it out with violins and piano. P J Harvey’s Oh My Lover turns up next and again the restrained arrangements work.


As stated, whether or not you like the songs depends in part on the ones chosen. Sometimes, of course, all that really remains of a song are the words, and maybe a hook. Adem is rather more respectful than that. Some songs, therefore, left this listener cold. And this is partly because Adem has deliberately restricted the range of songs he’s covered. The result is a selection of indie rock – as well as Bedhead and P J Harvey there’s dUES, Yo La Tengo, Smashing Pumpkins, The Breeders and Bjork. To be honest, and whilst I like some of these artists, it is hardly an inspiring selection. Sometimes the cover adds little to the original – Yo La Tengo’s Tears Are In Your Eyes is such a simple and affecting song it’s hard to see the point of covering it. On the other hand the Aphex Twin covers work really well.


Overall then, and not surprisingly, it’s something of a curate’s egg. Part of the problem is simply that Adem’s songs are better than many of those on the album. If I was to be critical of Adem rather than his song selection, it’s that I think he needs someone to shake up his sound a bit. To be self-sufficient is good, and the range of instruments he tackles is admirable, but other people bring different ideas and ways of doing things. Perhaps Adem could write sketches of songs for his next album and give them to his favoured artists to make something of them. Adem Gives, as it were, to follow up what he has taken.


Words: Chris Dawson