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Popular Music resurrects, reinterprets cinema's most beguiling songs

Screenshot: The Wicker Man (YouTube)

There’s plenty of music we’d describe as “cinematic,” but rarer are the songs so inextricably linked with film that they can’t help but carry the emotional weight of whatever it as they underscored. These are the songs consuming Popular Music, a new endeavor from Australian musician Prudence Rees-Lee and Zac Pennington, the erudite singer of the dearly departed Parenthetical Girls. The pair announced their debut LP today, Popular Music Plays In Darkness, which will find them, per a release, “reimagin[ing] our favorite songs from the cinema.”

Lead single “The Way Love Used To Be” comes from Ralph Thomas’ 1971 British comedy Percy. Originally written by Ray Davies, the song originally manifested as a hushed, string-driven ballad from the Kinks. Popular Music’s rendition revels in the song’s emotional grandeur, with a symphony of contrasting strings sawing over rhythmic synths and Pennington’s mournful vocals. A bold take on Davies’ arrangement, the band’s spin remains autumnal and evocative. Hear it below, along with the Kinks’ original rendition.

Accompanying the single is another cover, this one of “Willow’s Song” from the 1973 folk-horror classic The Wicker Man. Originally performed by a nude Britt Eklund, this hypnotic arrangement compellingly the Chromatics via John Carpenter. Hear that one below, along with Eklund’s original.

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A release date for Popular Music Plays In Darkness is forthcoming. We’re perhaps more intrigued, however, to see its tracklist.

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.