Texan pop-punk cult favorites Hagfish said adieu to its small but loyal following (for the first time, anyway) with this collection of B-sides and unreleased outtakes recorded between 1991 and 1998. Unfortunately, the checkered quality of these songs didn't make for a very fond farewell; more like a resigned admission of defeat than a defiant fuck you to those who questioned the band's deserving path to stardom (the fact that they were correct to do so is beside the point). Sure enough, even the most devoted of fans are bound to agree that the majority of these cuts (e.g. "Space Ghost," "Grin Doggy," "Liberty Bell," "Alone," etc.) sound disappointingly lukewarm, uninspired, and deflated compared to the effusive melodic punk nuggets found on Hagfish's best efforts. Among the scant, more memorable exceptions: opening instrumental "Badger" has an interesting surf rock feel (instru-surf-punk?); the sub-minute "Red White and Blue" staves off boredom with sheer velocity; and the alt-rock accents of "Kisses" sheds light on the band's debt to Nirvana and the Pixies. But it's only the simply named likes of "California," "Hand," and "Moaner" (the B-side of popular single "Stamp (Eat It While I Work)") that come anywhere near to living up to past expectations. All of which explains why only die-hard fans will need to complete their Hagfish collections with this release: That Was Then, This Is Then sees Hagfish fading away instead of burning out like all great rock & roll bands should. Pity.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia