Mainstream cover bands with hipster sensibilities (Nouvelle Vague and Sex Mob both come to mind) often get a free pass from the typical flak reserved for tribute acts. “Fuzzbox,” the third collection of all-string instrumental covers from the inventive Section Quartet, no doubt benefits from the input of co-producers Linda Perry and Jon Brion. And while many tunes dip into easy listening pastiche, much of the album rises above the typically lazy retreads.
Standout is the trance-inducing take on Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” (perhaps channeling Nirvana’s own unplugged cover of the song), which remains as haunting as the original. Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” gets a suitably mournful run-through and Muse’s “Time is Running Out” would work in a high-brow action movie. Ditto the Strokes’ “Juicebox,” which sounds like Bernard Herrmann.
SQ does little to transform the basics (tempo, key, length, etc.) of each instantly recognizable composition. It would’ve been nice to hear a little more far-out experimentation, the way jazz trio Bad Plus does with their pop covers.