Released Sept. 3rd on Thrill Me Records
B Sides is just what it advertises: “A collection of B sides and unreleased Mrs. Magician demos that we kept lingering around the basement.” Consisting of tracks left off last year’s Strange Heaven and others recorded in the prior 2 years, it earns its title by having the same sort of catchy melodies as Strange Heaven and the rough feel of the band’s early singles. Like Strange Heaven, these tracks are lo-fi surf-punk with self-deprecating lyrics. Lead track “Despicable Things” is the standout and could easily have made the studio album, with singer Jason Turnbloom singing “loneliness has driven me to do some despicable things” over a super catchy guitar line. “Guys in Cooler Bands” describes a starfucker and has a laid-back, sleepy feel to it. More uptempo tracks like “You’re Alive” and “Fools Paradise” are very much in keeping with the songs on Strange Heaven.
The material on the latter half of the album doesn’t hold up as well as the stuff on side one, coming off as the more demo-y of the selections. There are some good ideas in tracks like “Postcards My Parents Sent” and “Jealous” but they don’t sound fully finished. Some, like “I Hate Tour” sound half-baked. The one real oddball is “Always a Bridesmaid”, which relies on a programmed bossa nova blippity-bloop beat. It gets a bit better once the actual instruments kick in, and by its latter half starts to feel like an actual sinister song. “Sleep Running” sounds much like its title, a dreamy number played on plucked acoustic notes. The rough demo “Someday Someone” closes things out with more self-deprecating lyrics like “someday someone like me will live through the opinions and learn to give something more than grief and misery”.
B Sides is okay, but not much more than that. “Despicable Things”, “All My Friends Are Dying”, and “Fools Paradise” are definitely worth a listen for those who enjoyed Strange Heaven. The rest will only appeal to dedicated fans.