Since their career began on an a cappella competition show called “The Sing-Off,” fans have been head-over-heels for their ability to renew and modernize a bonafide classic, often making the originals as well as their covers surge in popularity. As their career has developed, they have moved into composing original songs, but what we all really look forward to is their covers. “Vol. 4 – Classics” is a short album; there are only seven songs, but they reach as far back as the 1940s to bring a wide variety of genre ranging, talent-oozing numbers to their fans.
The album kicks off with everyone’s favorite, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which they manage to pull off well—a feat many musicians are too afraid to even try. Their cover is reminiscent of “Glee,” but the fact that there is not a chorus backing them up makes it that much more impressive. Next, comes John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which at first seems like every other boring, copycat cover, but eventually transitions into a complete choral breakdown that gives it that Pentatonix quality.
Following that is “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” a hit from the Andrews Sisters. This song not only proves that they can move beyond traditional decade jams, but that they take music history and their own influences very seriously, which is always pleasant to see from a band. “Over the Rainbow” comes next, and thankfully, they stray from the all too familiar ukulele version, giving us an emotional ballad instead.
Next, they take on “Take On Me,” which was tailored so perfectly for a cappella, it is a wonder that we have not heard it from them as of yet. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” proves that they can make a ballad from the 1960s and make it repeat-worthy again. The album is capped off with their Grammy-winning rendition of “Jolene” with Dolly Parton—who has still got it by the way.
The album is the perfect snapshot of what they are capable of, sounding almost like a vocal resume for those unsure of how talented they are. While their original songs can be fun from time to time, it is covers like the ones that fill this album that fans want to hear and keep coming back for, so seeing them recognize that is a huge plus.
Vocal bassist Avi Kaplan and vocal percussionist Kevin Olusola are still the standouts of the group, but Mitch Grassi still as the ability to drop jaws with his unrealistic tenor. Kristin Maldonado and Scott Hoying remain consistent in their performances, which is noteworthy nonetheless.
If there is anything to complain about in regard to this album, it is that there are too few songs. “Classics” is such a broad classifications of songs, narrowing it down to seven leaves listeners wanting more dramatically poppy renditions of our favorites.
Should you listen to it? Absolutely.
Hats off to anyone that can perform such rich and complex songs with only their voices, and there is no one better for that job than the Pentatonix. “Vol. 4 – Classics” is a smooth ride through music history with a contemporary flare that is not to be missed.
Collegian reporter Nate Day can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NateMDay.