Clem Snide reached new heights with last year's The Ghost of Fashion, which contained, among other highlights, an elegant tale of a suburban first love ("Joan Jett of Arc") and an epic meditation on Corey Feldman's collapse ("The Junky Jews"). Now that Snide--with its melancholic disposition and the lead singer named Eef (Barzelay)--is getting a little bit of attention, its first album, You Were a Diamond, is getting the (necessary?) re-release treatment. Snide accomplished much in terms of honing the richness and swagger of its sound just in the one year since the release of LP No. 2, Your Favorite Music, and LP No. 3, Fashion. That they're only getting better with each successive album is primarily what makes this look back somewhat disconcerting. Not much in terms of raw concept has changed over time: Their sober, intermittently cloying wordplay is on full folky display; cellos abound, as does their somnambulant sad idealism. And most of the songs on Diamond are about love, pure pulchritude, mix tapes or some combination thereof. As for any "new" material here, the Diamond reissue does contain two bonus tracks, "Accident" and "Estranged Half Brother," and they're just as earnest as their titles sound (though the former is one of the more gorgeous tracks here). Clem Snide--the name comes from William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch, suggesting more manic inclinations than they've ever displayed--crafts sensitive and delicate, often frail, fetishistic dirges. But as plodding as they can be, they're worthwhile. Judging by Diamond, they always have been.
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