In anticipation of their pending full-length, due out sometime later this year, shoegazers Mara recently released a new three-song EP called Better Off, Alone Together EP. Featuring the talents of Andrew Mckie (guitar), Sean Hartnett (bass), and Byron Clark (drums), the band is the brainchild of songwriter Jordan Parker, who first unveiled his gift for narcotic midnight musings with defunct electro rockers Vera Vera.
There isn’t a lot to say about these songs that hasn’t already been written, either by Immersive editor Guillermo Castro or staff writer Benjamin Davidow. Truth be told, Better Off, Alone Together is a somewhat superfluous release, a recapitulation and rehashing of old songs dressed up in fancier clothes. Each of the tracks has appeared on an earlier release — “Shades” and “The Haunting” first surfaced on Mara’s self-titled debut, while the title track showed up on the Mara 2 EP earlier this year. But aside from some subtle tweaks, the tracks remain structurally the same as their older, bygone selves.
As such, this EP almost feels like a formality, something to offer fans to tide them over until the full length is complete. But while it may not be necessary, that’s not to say it’s unwelcome. The songs come with a handful of new thrills, evolutions that lie mainly in the production quality. Each of the earlier projects mentioned was recorded at the band’s house in East Atlanta Village, but for the upcoming LP, the group has conscripted engineer Ben Price (Hello Ocho, Faun and a Pan Flute, Little Tybee) of Studilaroche to capture the group’s self-described “phantom pop” aesthetic.
If nothing else, the Better Off, Alone Together EP is another opportunity to get lost in the dreaminess of guitar rock, the quintessential Mara sound that sits somewhere on the spectrum between gritty indie rock and murky shoegaze. And it’s another chance to sulk in the familiarity of Parker’s dark, grainy croon. If this release merely helps build anticipation for the upcoming full length, then it’s certainly served its purpose well.