Portishead’s Completely Alienating Cover of ABBA’s “S.O.S.” Appears Online


It was announced a while ago that Portishead — who hasn’t released an album since 2008’s Third — would be covering ABBA as their next musical endeavor, and that cover has finally surfaced online — on a Polish website. It actually accompanies the JG Ballard-based Ben Wheatley film High Rise, which incidentally just screened at Tribeca. (Flavorwire Film Editor Jason Bailey caught the screening and the related talk with the director and stars — including Tom Hiddleston).

Any Portishead release would be enticing. But the fact that the band known for their alienating instrumentation and singer Beth Gibbons’ direly melancholy vocals made something derived from music by the poster-children of dated upbeat pop makes it even more exciting. If you didn’t think they’d be able to cast a shadow over ABBA’s relentless sunshine — so relentless as to set songs about failed relationships like “S.O.S.” to chipper melodies — listen via the link above and prove yourself wrong. This new track is made all the more morose by our knowledge of the oddly upbeat original.

UPDATE: Audio for the track has been removed from SoundCloud.

Watch the trailer for the film:

And here’s ABBA’s version of the song, which is hilariously antithetical to everything Portishead has ever made: