by Eli Shively (@shivelyeli)
Teen Suicide’s latest full-length, It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot, was a celebration of excess — the 26-track epic dwarfed anything and everything the Maryland lo-fi rock outfit had previously done. Taking a no-stone-unturned approach to songwriting, the project’s creative mastermind Sam Ray crammed idea after idea into the record until it simply wouldn’t have made sense to go any further. As he himself put it, it was: “an exercise in falling down every rabbit hole possible.”
The record’s companion piece, Bonus EP, serves as its physical and spiritual antithesis, choosing subtlety where the LP chose overindulgence, and leaving listeners wanting more where Joyous Celebration made their heads spin with its profusion. At 20 tracks its junior, it still possesses the sonic and genre diversity Teen Suicide has made itself known for in its much smaller package: “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” sounds Daniel Lopatin-esque at times, “Slow To Work It Out” could be a Wavves b-side from 2010, and “Lately” is a beach bubblegum powerhouse drenched in reverb and christened with a bit of glockenspiel.
What the project has always done best is build a sense of cohesion among such differentiation, and Ray doesn’t fail to do it here. Longtime Teen Suicide fans will reasonably expect such a wide range of sounds going in, but those initially caught off guard will find themselves settling in nicely after the second or third track, with the record’s aesthetic dreaminess and the overall feeling of pluralistic emotion tying it all together.
Although Bonus EP is a relatively under-the-radar release compared to Joyous Celebration, simply calling it a collection of songs that “didn’t make the cut” would be a harsh understatement. It not only manages to stand as tall as the full-length while taking up a fraction of its runtime, but also gracefully solidifies itself as Teen Suicide’s most wholly mature work to date every step of the way. Where one would expect a simple b-sides EP to be thrown together and served as-is, the careful artistic consideration that Bonus EP exudes from all sides deserves a great deal of recognition and praise. Teen Suicide’s best work is still ahead of them if they keep this up.