The first thing I thought on hearing this was that I feel a little sorry for Asgeir, because it is impossible to hear it and not think about Nirvana. I mean, that’s probably to be expected – it is a cover of a Nirvana song, after all. But I don’t just mean think of Nirvana. I mean really address Cobain’s value as a songwriter.
When stripped back like this, with a skilled vocalist, a song’s chord changes are laid out bare. And here they really excel. They draw you in with a moody chord progression – it is clear now that this is what is really drawing you in in Nirvana’s original, not the winding guitar part – before piling into the chorus, which hovers between minor (sad sounding) and major (happy sounding) chords like The Beatles. And it has a similar effect as, say, Yesterday or Day In The Life. It’s reflective but still uplifting. It’s kind of like watching the serious bit in a funny film, and it’s really nice. Because when listening to music it’s often impossible to not think of context, whether that’s yours or someone else’s, and when stripped back it becomes clear that this song chimes so well with the obvious context that it did not exist in when it was written.
I don’t think this is really present in the original. Any reflection is buried in overdrive. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Of course not. The two versions of this song serve different purposes (as the best cover versions do). The original aims firstly to excite and secondly to hammer home any meaning it contains in the most violent way. The cover is a bit more gentle, but it’s aim is gentler.