Chances are, you’re pretty familiar with Florence Welch by now. The fire-haired Brit became one of the most unique crossover stars of the turn of the decade thanks to her rousing live performances of epic orchestral hits like “Dog Days Are Over” and “Shake It Out,” and has recently achieved secondary success as the Donna Summer to Calvin Harris’ Giorgio Moroder, proving quite the disco diva on Calvin’s “Sweet Nothing” and his remix of her own “Spectrum (Say My Name).”
You might not be as instantly familiar with Dev Hynes, but odds are pretty good you’ve heard his work too. Aside from achieving some underground success with his own moody synth-pop productions under aliases Lightspeed Champion and Blood Orange, his reach has extended much further with his collaborative work with artists like Solange (whose acclaimed True EP he produced in its entirety), Sky Ferreira (whose “Everything is Embarrassing,” one of our favorites of 2012, he co-produced), and electronic artists like Basement Jaxx and the Chemical Brothers.
Nothing in the back catlaog of either artist—orch-pop, EDM disco or underwater synth-pop—would suggest an affinity for punk-turned-stadium-rock heroes Green Day, and certainly not specifically for their scattered and lukewarmly received 1997 album, Nimrod. But when you look at Dev’s Wiki page, there’s a curious catalogue item (under the “Official Bootlegs” section, which seems mildly oxymoronic) entitled Team Perfect presents: Green Day’s ‘Nimrod.’ Doing a little internet research reveals that the item was a little-hyped, internet-only release from Dev under the Team Perfect alias, with a special guest on vocals—Miss Florence.
The two artists have been professional collaborators a number of times, on Florence songs like “Never Let Me Go” and “Bird Song,” and have been friends for far longer. But it was their shared love of the Green Day album—which featured a more eclectic, oddball sound for Green Day, but still included hits like “Hitchin’ a Ride,” “Nice Guys Finish Last,” and the group’s first and most-famous acoustic exploration, “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”—that originally brought them together. “We called ourselves Team Perfect after we bonded over our love of Nimrod when we first met and we recorded that in his kitchen after we’d decided it was the best album ever recorded,” Welch explained to Gigwise back in 2009.
Fans of either or both of the artists may start to salivate at the notion of what a collaboration between the two on a Green Day cover album might sound like, mentally splitting the artistic difference between the two, and throwing in Billie Joe Armstrong’s snotty lyrics and power-poppy melodies. For better or worse, though, the project is not nearly so intricate. The collaboration took place in 2007, years before either artist hit it big (relatively speaking) or really found their musical or creative niche, and it’s a fairly low-key, lo-fi affair—just Florence wailing Billie Joe’s vocals while Dev accompanies her on acoustic guitar and backing vocals, without any of the sonic complexity either artist has come to be known for.
That said, the project is still a fascinating one for its sheer historical oddness. Listening to Florence and Dev cover “Hitchin’ a Ride”—sorry, if they ever got to the far-more-popular “Good Riddance,” it’s not available for listening on YouTube—and your brain basically melts at the unlikeliness. Plus, it’s still quite the fun listen—if you’ve ever questioned Florence’s range, skill, or (above all else) commitment as a vocalist, one listen to her screeching “SHIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTT!!!!!!” in the song’s breakdown section should assuage any such doubts.
Here’s hoping there’s an official CD re-issue of this project someday. The kids need to learn about Nimrod somehow, right? We don’t see that album getting a big-budget Broadway musical anytime soon.