May 24th, 2012 | Album reviews

Strange Beauty 7”

This 7″ is a coup-de-grace for Harding, who has the rhythm section of Dinosaur Jr. playing on the somewhat poppy A-side (think late-era Hüsker Dü or Gumball, but dirgier), and Emperor X helping out on the B-side’s “Pure Reason,” a screamo-hardcore punk track with the same kind of smirk you’d find on the Beastie Boys’ Some Old Bullshit. The final track—Harding solo—goes back to pop, but the lo-fi kind that you can only get when remixing something originally recorded to cassette (and this one may have originally been recorded in 1996, if I’m reading the liner notes correctly). Overall, it is an excursion into the 90s, but the good side, the one where grunge had already petered out but boy bands hadn’t quite yet reemerged. It’s worth getting for the harmonies on the A-side alone, and as a bonus, Harding used his pull with David Lynch (who he’d worked for in the past) to use a rather delicious photo of Mädchen Amick from Twin Peaks for the inner sleeve.

—D.M. Collins