Mrs. Magician B-Sides (Thrill Me)
By their very nature, rarities and b-sides collections tend to be pretty spotty. Theyre cast-offs—offal— the stuff that either didnt fit or just plain wasnt good enough to make it to an artists albums. That may be a gross oversimplification in certain cases, but thats usually how this sort of thing works. There are exceptions, of course—Nirvanas Incesticide has aged at least as well as the bands studio albums, if not better—but, on a larger scale, rarities compilations are, to put it bluntly, musical leftovers.
That doesnt mean that one bands trash cant be a listeners treasure. Simply making the effort to actually release rare, rough or hard-to-find songs indi cates that an artist would think those extra tracks are worth a listeners time. In the case of Mrs. Magician, whose new B-Sides compilation was released Sept. 3 on drummer Cory Stiers Thrill Me Records, its a reappraisal worth taking.
Boasting 17 songs, B-Sides is a hefty amount of material packed into 40 minutes. That, inevitably, means some of the material is going to be slight, unfinished or even not terribly necessary. Wai Ki Kill, for instance, is a 30-second instrumental track that, while pretty, doesnt really do much. And the snotty, sassy Tabloids, I Hate Tour and Get Bent, while still touting the bands characteristic surf-pop melodies, dont quite have the same appeal of anything on Mrs. Magicians 2012 album, Strange Heaven.
Yet, despite a handful of inevitable rough or undercooked tracks, Mrs. Magicians b-sides largely comprise the same golden hooks and melodies that can be found on their a-sides or album tracks. All My Friends are Dying, for instance, is a gorgeous jangle-pop gem with lots of reverb-heavy licks, while Guys in Cooler Bands has a triumphantly soaring chorus. Theres no song that hits with the same kind of impact as opener Despicable Things, however— its big, meaty riffs introduce the largely low-key pop record with a tune that thoroughly rocks.
By design, B-Sides isnt perfect, but its surprisingly strong given that its a collection of odds and ends. In any case, having them all here sure beats tracking down all those 7-inches.