Halloween has brought us a lot of things. Toffee apples, Michael Myers, kids donning devil horns (apparently constituting "dressing up") coming to your door to beg for some sweets, some of the very finest Simpsons episodes, a huge abundance of pumpkin in the vegetable drawer (thus keeping you on pumpkin soup for the entire first week of Novermber) and this year...a limited edition EP from Big D and the Kids Table.
It's nice Big D decided to do this. Only very recently has How It Goes dropped out of regular rotation in my CD player, so the news of a few new tracks to keep me going was very welcome. I loved that album, and before hearing Salem Girls I believed Dave and Co. could do no wrong. Chalk that mistake up to wishful thinking, I suppose. What we have here are 4 tracks, with 3 bonuses. Of the 20 pieces that made up the How It Goes pie, not one was anything below thigh-slapping/groin-grabbingly delicious. Out of the 7 slices of Big D action we are presented with here, I believe not even a die-hard fan would ask for seconds. Allow me to explain.
The title track is the Halloween-themed number here, with a few voice parts throughout telling a tale of an accused witch on trial and also a choir section added in at various parts, the latter actually achieving some spookyness. It is beyond doubt that the band were going for the appropriate theme here, but by following that dark and eerie path, the words "fun" and "(decent) melody" are somewhere to be found in the bushes off track, bloodied, rotting and with axes in head. Not only that, the horn line amidst just sounds...a bit too festive. Not good. "She's Lovely" is the best track on here, but falls way short of the high standard set by the recent full-length, and like the whole EP, is way too chilled out. Track 3 provides the listener with an instrumental that sounds like it belongs on Final Fantasy 8, and the last of the foursome just drags. This is not a collection of songs you will be going nuts to, skanking the night away to or even finding hard to get out of your head for days on end.
To be blunt, the bonus tracks are totally unnecessary. We are presented with two more versions of "Salem Girls," an instrumental and a dub remix. Everyone knows these things rarely (if ever) even come close to matching the original, and in this case the original was not great to begin with. What's the point? Finally, there is a stripped down version of "She's Lovely" on there, too. Frankly, this is the scariest part of the EP, with Dave's vocals sending a rather large chill up my spine. They just don't sound right.
Maybe I'm missing something here. I hate being hard on a band that works so hard and deserves all the love they get, but when the songs are bad, there's no escaping the blatant disappointment. The novelty value is high, but the replay value is frighteningly low. After hearing this, I found myself playing How It Goes non-stop for a couple of days to remind myself just how great Big D really are. Here's to next time.