Clem Snide's Beautiful [EP] is built around the band's cover of Christina Aguilera's power ballad "Beautiful." A lot of indie bands, when doing a cover of a chart hit, will do it winkingly or archly; Clem Snide display no such distance. The group throw themselves into the performance like it was the best song ever written; Eef Barzelay delivers the words earnestly, like he was reciting bible verses at a revival meeting. The only problem is that the Linda Perry-composed tune is pretty rotten, the lyrics are trite and bland, and melody is non-existent. The band's originals are so ironic, literate, dynamic, and wonderful that this song just lies there like nothing much at all. Following "Beautiful" up with "All Green" -- one of the poignant highlights of the group's 2003 album, Soft Spot -- just points out what a bad song it really is, and a good version of a bad song is most often still a bad song, and a less than thrilling listening experience. The rest of the EP is made up of two unreleased originals, and one unreleased cover: a decent, understated version of the Velvet Underground's "I'll Be Your Mirror," recorded live on the radio in 2002. Of the two unreleased tracks, "Mike Galinsky" is the funniest, being a bit of a shaggy dog story about a high school classmate with asthma who ends up being a singer in a rock band, but "Nick Drake Tape," a pretty, country-folk ballad with an aching vocal from Barzelay, and nice acoustic musical backing, is much better. The Beautiful [EP] is not an essential purchase for any but the most devoted Clem Snide fans.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra