Given their fondness for wandering into the echoey outer reaches of musical possibility on their albums, when Thee Oh Sees release a single, it has the interesting effect of forcing them to go for the hook. With three minutes or so per side to make their statement, the bandmembers follow a straighter line, and while the results are still best defined as psychedelic-infused garage murk, they do deliver something that more closely resembles a coherent pop tune...or at least a pop tune. The third installment in Thee Oh Sees' series of collections gathering their single sides for those who didn't chase down all their 7" releases, this album features a handful of tunes that demonstrate this band of enthusiastic hallucinogenic travelers can generate a solid dance pulse ("Burning Spear"), evoke vintage sunshine pop ("Wait Let's Go"), make like some refugees from the Nuggets box set ("Devil Again"), or sneer like circa-1979 electro punks ("Girls Who Smile") and still sound like themselves throughout. Of course, Singles Collection, Vol. 3 often sounds even more distorted and unhinged than the average Oh Sees long-player, though in this context that's part of the fun -- even when they're trying to force a degree of concision on themselves, they can't help but open their third eye and dive head first into the swamp, and they don't hesitate to let their freak flag fly on "FBI2" and "Ugly Man." But anyone who thinks this band isn't sounding neater on these single sides should stick around for the two live cuts that close out the package; the reverb-heavy report of "Block of Ice" and "Destroyed Fortress/No Spell," which clock in at 7:34 and 10:18 respectively, document the band's willingness to stretch out and explore on-stage, and many of the studio tracks sound downright efficient by comparison (though with less studio gimmicks at hand, the live cuts also demonstrate Thee Oh Sees can hold down an amazing groove when circumstances require). Good fun for confirmed followers, and not a bad sampler for those needing a taste of Thee Oh Sees' special brew.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming