Hot Eskimos turn the magic and confused beauty of the Sugarcubes’ most cherished number into a sublimely lush jazz rendering that brings the song’s most furtive emotion to the fore – one of deep sadness. “Birthday” has had a number of reinventions over the years, but no artist or band could ever capture the raw, unspoiled beauty of Björk’s voice, jubilant and vicious in equal measure. The band give the song that was primed for a jazz reworking an atmosphere of swirling colour and shape, with piano scales sliding around an at once steady and fractured rhythm, and the drums and upright bass creating a cadence of tension and release. Like the original, Hot Eskimo’s version is rich with ideas and a musicality that could only have been sparked by an imagination brimming with wide-eyed wonder and a desperate need to be fulfilled. Just see if you don’t laugh… or cry.
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