Let's face it. The use of pitch-shifted R&B vocals is, without a doubt, one of 2011's most overdone musical tricks. Here at XLR8R, the amount of emails saying something along the lines of, "Hey, would you like to post my remix/refix/rework of (fill in the blank generic R&B cut)?" has absolutely reached critical mass. As such, the timing of Numbers' latest release, "I'm Sorry" from Montreal duo Sibian & Faun, itself a refashioning of Ashanti's "Hey Baby," is unfortunate. This record could have very easily been a groan-worthy cliché, but, somehow, it's actually quite good.
More than anything, "I'm Sorry" succeeds because of what it doesn't do. Sibian & Faun thoroughly dice up the original Ashanti vocal, but the pair stops short of cutting the snippets into oblivion. As a result, what remains are intelligible pieces with actual words, which Sibian & Faun smartly string together in way that sounds like an actual R&B track, celebrating the genre rather than simply exploiting its well-worn tropes. As for the music, it falls somewhere in the Hudson Mohawke/Rustie end of the bass-music spectrum, thanks to its wavering 8-bit synth melodies and slowly growling bass tones. Nevertheless, while the track sounds big and its sonics are undeniably thick, "I'm Sorry" isn't really designed for the club. It's futuristic. It's sexy. It's pensive and maybe even a little sad. Plainly said, the song—and it is a song, the kind you might find yourself humming without even thinking about it—has some real emotional heft.