For Elliott Douglas, the multi-instrumentalist behind M.A.G.S., the last two years have been a time of healing, breaking boundaries, and navigating emotions. Since the 2017 release of his self-titled debut, he has gone through a divorce and moved across the country from Buffalo, New York to Los Angeles, California. Douglas’ latest EP Lost Tapes is a chronicle of that transition, like a series of journal entries from an undoubtedly tumultuous era of his life.
“Try” was written with his ex-spouse and they used to play it together. It’s punk-edged, simple, but the message is clear. The track was prophetic, warning of a tendency many of us have: convincing ourselves that we want something even though you don’t actually want it that badly. Consequently, you go through the motions until you arrive at the realization that no matter how hard you try, you will not be able to find true happiness in the situation that you have pursued for so long. “I’m not trying to throw shade or anything like that,” says Douglas. “We all have experiences and sometimes the truth is kind of brutal. It’s also just a part of the human process. Sometimes you need to get those things out in order to move on with your life.”
Douglas shifts to mellow alt rock on “Berlin,” the first song that he wrote in Los Angeles. It’s dreamy and soft in the verses, but explodes in the chorus as Douglas grasps the reality of his new world and realizes that he has broken out of a cycle of contentment. It’s a raw documentation of the shock that comes with sudden change. Douglas moved to Los Angeles only a couple of months after ending his two year marriage. “I kind of felt like I had just been thrown into a different dimension where I wasn’t married and lived in Los Angeles and I was like ‘how did I even get here?’” says Douglas.
Lost Tapes acknowledges the heartbreak of Douglas’ recent past on “Couldn’t Care,” a narrative of his crumbling relationship. It’s hard not to picture what could’ve been and pore over what went wrong. With the help of an acoustic guitar and a 2000s-esque alt rock melody, Douglas showcases the dark corners of his personal life and channels an abstract emotional energy into something tangible. For a while, he thought they were too personal to share, the songs aged well after sitting on his computer for a couple years. It felt like the right time to put the songs out.
The first three tracks on the EP were released on Bandcamp and Soundcloud in March. They are now available on all streaming platforms with “Gaslighter” as a punchy new addition about stepping out of your way and standing up for yourself. Douglas is gearing up to release his sophomore album by the end of the year, and says that we can expect a single over the summer.