Six years ago, Shocking Pinks (aka Nick Harte) released his last album, a hermetic bedroom curio sealed in DFA’s quarters. If his beseeching lyrics and despondent tone suggested total internal collapse, his new Stars & Letters triple-LP Guilt Mirrors (out Feb 18), recorded in his Christchurch studio around the city’s 2011 earthquakes, confronts the external reality. Harte faced his dark period like most of us do, albeit it rather more literally: by shutting in and painting the windows black. To capitalise he scorched through sleepless five-day recording sessions, but "What’s Up With that Girl" feels like a nervous step into some post-traumatic nightclub, wearing its tetchy hook like alien skin. It features singer Ashlin Raymond, responsible for Tiger Tones’ similarly chromatic electro, and her presence nourishes the music, projecting Harte’s spiritual catatonia outwards. When the question repeats forlornly – “what’s up with that girl?” – you suspect whatever has befallen her is so catastrophic that no answer is conceivable.
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