by Jeremy Zerbe (@jznonotthatjayz)
When bands revisit their old albums it can feel like a tired, money-grabbing gimmick. Earlier this year, I listened to an expanded edition of a great 1990’s band’s sleeper hit album, excited to hear what they’d included on the second disc. It turned out to be nothing more than the album’s original demos and a middling recording of a live show.
So how do you do it right? Experimental metal trio Boris seems to understand. For the tenth anniversary of their seminal 2006 album Pink, the sludgy Japanese band pulled out all the stops. A redesigned, die-cut record sleeve houses the album’s three LPs, the third of which contains nine never-before heard songs from the Pink cutting room floor. These aren’t demos, live cuts, acoustic versions, or little, incomplete ideas—they’re nine fantastic songs that are just as good as the eleven included on the original album.
On what was, at the time, the band’s most accessible album, we not only saw Atsuo, Takeshi and Wata thrashing through the frenetic noise-punk and sludgy riffing they’d honed across their nine previous albums, but also experimenting with the more reserved, melodic leanings of shoegaze and post-rock on songs “Farewell” and “My Machine.” These nine new “Forbidden Songs” show just how deep those varied influences ran during the recording of Pink. While they may have been left off the album to give it a more consistent sound in line with what the band was known for, it’s fantastic to hear these songs now, ten years later.
While “Your Name Part 2” and “Tiptoe” show off the band’s dreamy, melodic chops, the Forbidden Songs are not all shoegaze-y experiments. “Heavy Rock Industry” sounds like something straight off a Jesu album, while “N.F.Sorrow” could be the B-side to Nirvana’s “Milk It,” in some far-off alternate universe. Each of these new songs is interesting on their own merit, but when considered as a collective whole, the Forbidden Songs would have made a damn fine album on its own, even more so considering the added care that went into the new disc’s production.
Not only are these songs just as solid as those found on Pink, but many of them physically sound better – clearer and sharper. I don’t know if these new songs were only mixed recently or perhaps were just given a fresh remastering, but if this new reissue has any faults, it’s that the same ear for clarity wasn’t employed on Pink’s original eleven songs. There’s nothing wrong with the original tracks, per se, but next to the Forbidden Songs, they sound a little bit flat (particularly vocally) by comparison.
Still, this deluxe edition is pretty much a must-have for Boris fans. An already fabulous record, the only way to make it better was to add more great music, and that’s exactly what Boris has done with this reissue. Ten years later, Pink is, impossibly, even better than it was the first time around—and with so much more to love.