The Seaside EP
Label: Polyvinyl Records
The biggest problem with The Seaside EP is that Owen’s music has matured years beyond these B-sides. Before this, the Owen project seemed to be hitting full stride with the consecutive releases of (the ep), I Do Perceive and At Home With Owen, so why the hell would anyone want a novelty cover of “More Than Words” now? I’m sure the song kills live, but so does Owen Pallett’s rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” and no one’s begging for him to throw that on the next Final Fantasy album.
It will be the bane of this EP that its strongest moments are songs that Owen fans are already very familiar with. “In The Morning Before Work (live)” is easily the most memorable track, primarily because it sounds exactly like it did on 2004′s (the ep). Hardcore fans will notice the similarities between Seaside’s “Head Will Ache” and No Good For No One Now’s “Everyone Feels Like You,” confirming that Seaside is composed not only B-sides, but undeveloped rough drafts as well. For the six or seven Owen completists of Illinois, this prospect is probably very exciting, but for those of us who jumped on board around I Do Perceive, it’s a tough sell.
The Seaside EP is an Owen album, so presumably it can’t be all bad. “Stolen Bike” is a surprisingly faithful rendition of Springsteen’s “Stolen Car,” overlooking of course a glaring lyrical difference in the chorus, while “I’m Not Seventeen” features all the shimmering effects that Owen is most easily identified with. But it is this latter song’s wailing electric guitar solo that is a welcome departure for Mike Kinsella. There has never been any reason to doubt that Kinsella can shred with the best with them if the mood struck, but American Football made it clear that was never going to happen. “I’m Not Seventeen” is probably the closest he’ll ever come.
If this was the first album by a fresh-faced, up-and-coming singer/songwriter from Champaign, Illinois, I’d say The Seaside EP shows promise. But that promise has already been proven. After 2006′s At Home With Owen, the bar has been set high for the next Owen release, and while it is very clear Seaside is to be thought of as nothing more than a collection of rarities, it is hard to think of the EP as anything but a cheap distraction from what we are all really waiting for from Mike Kinsella.