Under The Covers II Review: Sexy and stellar

This is a picture of the two members of comedy band Ninja Sex Party, along with several background dancers from The Spangles, during the filming of their video Next To You. (Bwecht/Wikimedia Creative Commons)

For all the songs on the radio with vague (or perhaps not-so-vague) allusions to the benefits, pitfalls and general accoutrements of the most glorious biological function known as human fornication, it’s quite refreshing to have a band so forthcoming about it as Ninja Sex Party.

With that, lead singer Danny “Sexbang” Avidan and his partner “Ninja” Brian Wecht have done it again with their latest album “Under the Covers II,” bringing the creamy peanut butter-smooth voice of the Jewish Starbomb right into your living room, in all the excellence of the 80s. Best party ever!

When I mean smooth, by the way, I mean smooth. You know the high pitched pseudo-screech you hear in “Take on Me” when Morten Harket sings “I’ll be gone/In a day or two?” Yeah, when Sexbang sings it, it’s a croon. You could practically use it to soothe a fussy baby; he’s that good.

While NSP has an exemplary collection of original songs, including “6969,” “Eating Food in the Shower” and, my personal favorite, “Peppermint Creams,” the band’s first cover album “Under the Covers” and, consequently, “Under the Covers II” do nearly everything right in covering songs: bringing in the familiarity of the music you know and love, while adding the elements of NSP’s style that leaving you wanting more.

Avidan’s characteristic layered singing, as well as the keyboard synth prominent in his works, are all present in the songs he covers. This is both an advantage and disadvantage. While it helps even out songs such as Rush’s “Limelight” with traditionally pitchy vocals, other songs with a more distinctive style, such as Def Leppard’s  “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” feel a bit out-of-place.

Where NSP gets it right, however, it knocks it out of the park. Toto’s “Africa” works extremely well, mostly because it had the synth theme going, but Avidan truly shines in Asia’s “Heat of the Moment.” While the original is great, Sexbang’s vocals, as well as the backup changing the tempo to a marching, progressive rhythm, seem to pop out more than the original. It’s catchy, it’s upbeat and I promise it’ll be stuck in your head all day.

In addition, the instrumentals are, well, instrumental to the excellence of this album. It helps when you have talent like glam metal guitarist Satchel from Steel Panther, who guested on “Limelight,” and Tupperware Remix Party to bring it all together.

While a few songs fall in the middle of the spectrum, such as Skee-Lo’s “I Wish,” I can honestly say that there isn’t a bad song on this whole album. It’s soothing at the right moments, like with The Moody Blues’ “Your Wildest Dreams,” and energetic at others.

To top it all off, Avidan closes off the album with an absolutely beautiful rendition of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” It’s quiet and resonant, like a sunset. His voice is passionate throughout the entire thing and the backups (done by the Super Guitar Bros.) are strong and subtle. I can’t think of a better way to end it.

All in all, a stellar addition to the NSP mixlist. I give it 4.7/5 manticores.


Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.