A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material

A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material

With only one studio album under his belt, a rarities collection from synth/goth guru John Maus is a bit of a surprise, but it offers a gratifying peek into his musical vision. The outdated term “goth” is still the most fitting for his overall aesthetic, with club-friendly dance beats, gloomy reverb-drenched vocals, and synth tones and percussion that mimic bands like Bauhaus, Ultravox, and Joy Division. Scenes of an artist finding his way are evident: Maus’ voice is reedier, the synths more delicate on “The Law”; the overwrought, experimental “Lost” shows how brooding and effective piano can be in his hands; “Fish with Broken Dreams” (the earliest tune here) is a clever bit of orchestral cabaret. His dark humor is also more evident: “Rock the Bone” is an amusing disco tune that could have nightclub crowds reluctantly grinning as they dance, and we love the lovely “I Don’t Eat Human Beings” for more than its title. Many songs—such as the rapturously romantic “Bennington”—could have come from 2011’s We Must Become Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. Clearly, a deep well of songs lives in Maus’ musical soul—as dark as it may be down there.

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