John Maus – A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material
John Maus has stayed under the spotlight for the past few years, playing with Panda Bear and Ariel Pink while putting out his own material from time to time. It wasn’t until last year that he got his big breakthrough with the great album We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. The album was full of dark synth pop that was dramatic and forceful, making for one of the better albums of the year. He’s following that up with this collection of 16 tracks that from the past 13 years, some of which have never been released before. As with any collection of unreleased singles and b-sides, this album is mostly hit and miss, going from excellent dark goth pop in the vein of Chromatics to more cheesy tracks that can be grating at time. Rather than presenting the tunes in chronological order, the album jumps around in time, playing songs from all different years. These songs are all over the place, from “Big Dumb Man”, which is overly dramatic, to more solid love songs like “Bennington”. Maus is no stranger to cheesiness, and while some work like the earworm “This is The Beat”, others like “Fear” can get overwrought and bothersome. Many of these songs are standard B-sides, pretty good songs that show the progress Maus has made throughout the years, but aren’t quite as strong as his standouts from last year’s album. Some come close however, such as “No Title (Molly)”, which is expansive and seedy like the best of Chromatics, and the dramatic goth pop of “The Law”. Overall, this album is a good collection of various tracks from Maus’s career, that will be good for anyone who enjoyed his last album so that they can further explore his past work.
- David Sackllah