John Maus, A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material
A delightfully perverse DIY synth-pop compilation that reaches the heights of his previous LPs
The idea of a John Maus obscurities compilation is deliciously absurd on multiple levels: As a former Ariel Pink and Panda Bear sideman whose biggest release to date was named after an arcane philosophical precept, the Minnesota-born synth-pop auteur is plenty obscure by most standards. And after a controversial interview last year where Maus blasted the commodification of culture and expressed discomfort with even selling his own merch, this compilation’s blatantly literal title is at once self-evidently true and ridiculously droll. The 16-track, 45-minute set itself is no less perverse, but at its best it’s as rewarding as any of Maus’s previous full-lengths.
Although the material unearthed here spans from 1999-2010, the remixed and remastered results are remarkable in part for their cohesiveness. Whether Maus is booming that he loves “those fucking eyes” on 2007′s stalker-ish “Bennington” or Jan Hammer-riffing his way through a Drive-like urban night on 2008′s “No Title (Molly),” the initial highlights here are true to Maus’s homemade goth-pop form. A couple of oddities, such as 2003′s guitar-stabbed “Lost,” are for true completists only. But as with his previous album’s “Believer,” Maus saves the best for last, closing on a gorgeously emotive, Flashdance-gone-Balearic ballad — titled “I Don’t Eat Human Beings.” Of course.