Kim Shattuck had been writing songs for years before her band the Muffs recorded their first album, but while she was playing bass with the Pandoras, that band didn't provide her with a vehicle for her material. So when Shattuck launched the Muffs, she had a big stack of tapes of her working out rough versions of her songs, with makeshift percussion accompanying her guitar and vocals, and The Muffs Demos is a digital album that features home-recorded versions of eight songs from Shattuck's archives. Two of these tunes, "All for Nothing" and "Not Like Me," would be re-recorded for The Muffs, "Saying Goodbye to Phil" would be revised into "Saying Goodbye" when it appeared on the album, and "Ethyl My Love" would be revived for the Muffs' second album, Blonder and Blonder. The other four songs have never been released, and they frankly don't capture Shattuck at her best, but they're still good fun, especially the solid rock riffing of "I Don't Expect It," the downbeat breakup pop of "My Face," and "Do You Want Her," a solid tune that features some charmingly enthusiastic tambourine bashing from Shattuck. The fidelity is what you might expect from four-track cassette recordings that are over 20 years old, but as such things go, they're not bad, and even though these are scratch vocals, they suggest Shattuck's later approach of recording her vocals herself is a method that works for her. The material on The Muffs Demos is the sort that would usually pop up either on a bootleg or as bonus tracks on a reissue project, and the tracks do in fact appear on Omnivore's 2015 CD reissue of The Muffs. But if you're a fan who wants to hear these rare recordings without ponying up for the new edition of The Muffs, The Muffs Demos is a convenient and affordable alternative.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming