If you were making a movie set in Seattle in 1990 and you needed to cast a band to play the grunge act rocking out in some small club, you could hardly do better than to hire Strange Wilds. While this band favors the leaner, more punk rock side of the signature Pacific Northwest sound over the sludgier, metal-influenced components of grunge, if you were going to imagine a three-way crash between Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Tad, it's a fair guess it would sound something like Strange Wilds' debut album, Subjective Concepts. It's not unfair to say Strange Wilds are a bit derivative, but they also do right by their influences, and they unleash a cranked-up onslaught that's tight and ferocious, with a judicious use of dynamics and an effective application of the traditional cheap Fender guitar run through the right effects boxes. Guitarist Steven (these guys are apparently too punk to have last names) keeps his riffs wiry but hard enough to leave a mark, while drummer Allen has good time, feel, and impact, and bassist Sean keeps the low end throbbing with force and melodic power. And the literate anger and focused self-loathing of the lyrics offer further evidence that these guys grew up with Nirvana on frequent rotation, but the final effect sounds less like a band following a template and more like a younger band that found a kindred spirit among their influences. And the fact that Sub Pop, the label that brought grunge to the world, has given Strange Wilds their seal of approval is telling; if anyone would know if these guys were doing this stuff right, it's them, and based on the aural evidence of Subjective Concepts, there's no good reason to argue with them. Pull that flannel shirt out of mothballs, Strange Wilds just might make it hip again.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming