There’s an air of welcome familiarity to Dallas String Quartet cover of Dua Lipa’s hit “Love Again.” Besides the fact that it’s a cover of a song I wasn’t too aware of even though most of the tracks I heard from Dua’s 2020 release Future Nostalgia were very good, the arrangement and the sincere joy on display has this feeling like you’re at a party, not a sprawling one crammed with guests shoulder to shoulder, but one of those backyards hangs that slowly transforms into a party, usually because of the transporting power of music. Instrumentals are sometimes really tricky to review unless you’re familiar with music theory, knowledgeable about the arrangement and things of that nature, which I’m not, but if there are three things I love, it’s string arrangments, transformative covers, and neon all of which are here especially when you watch the infectious music video that accompanies the release.
Covers I feel get a bad reputation sometimes because people usually lump them in (unfairly) into the “Muzak” category, but the sheer production on this alone keeps it far and away from anything resembling that categorization. It helps that the original song is already steeped in strong string arrangements and accents and the way the group recreates the sounds of the “Your Woman” samples from White Town that lipa used is so catchy, it almost steals the show with that aspect alone.
The whole thing has this jovial innocence to it, from the poppy song choice to the playful plucks and inflections. Even as someone not overly familiar with the original lyrics to this song, it’s hard to really care about wondering how they’re transcribing those aspects into a purely instrumental jam, but when it’s this catchy and you begin noticing things like the inspired synth and drum machine flourishes, you’ll find yourself entirely transported. I have zero doubts that a song like this will play exceptionally well when things like large social engagements start up again (whenever that is) and I would absolutely kill to see this performed live, but my primary experience was listening to this with headphones and I’d recommend others do the same.
Listening to it in that kind of hyper-focused isolated bubble, you really begin to take notice of those aforementioned subtleties and just the glass cutting precision the group displays with its execution.
Covers like this are incredible because even if you’re unfamiliar with the source material, even if it’s so radically different from the original that it feels like a wholly original composition from a group with a distinct voice and sound as the Dallas String Quartet does, you’ll never find yourself preoccupied with comparing the two. Unlike a lot of contemporary covers, however, since this one is string arrangements, you might find yourself a little off-put that say a total synth cover, and sometimes that might not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for something that expertly blends the familiarity with an astounding sense of originality, I say look no further.