Casual listeners of a band will stick around for a few albums, perhaps even five or six if the group evolves well. But what could possibly keep listeners interested in and excited about a band’s eighteenth album? Indeed, “An Odd Entrances” is lead vocalist and guitarist John Dwyer’s eighteenth studio album with Thee Oh Sees and second of 2016, and while it succeeds in more than a few ways, it essentially relies on its chronological position in Thee Oh Sees’ abundant career to be understood.

After recording four albums under the name OCS and two as Thee Oh Sees, John Dwyer’s band released four studio records as Thee Oh Sees from 2008 through 2010, all of which displayed high energy garage rock with messy touches of psychedelia. “Castlemania” and “Carrion Crawler/The Dream” came in 2011 and are the closest semblances of an experimental phase. The albums that followed were matured versions of Thee Oh Sees’ first four albums: They were far more calculated and precise, featuring a refined sound that made it seem like John Dwyer was finally refining the sound introduced on his first albums. This development cumulated in this summer’s “A Weird Exits,” a record with the same energy of Thee Oh Sees early albums but with detail and instrumentation achieved beyond the confines of a garage. Now, three months later we get “An Odd Entrances”.

Much like Radiohead’s “Amnesiac” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Untitled Unmastered,” “An Odd Entrances” is a collection of songs from the recording sessions of its superior predecessor. While Radiohead nurtured their “Kid A” session leftovers to create the cohesive and developed “Amnesiac,” Kendrick’s “Untitled Unmastered” provided a raw glimpse into the recording sessions of “To Pimp a Butterfly”. “An Odd Entrances” is reminiscent of the latter, featuring six rather undeveloped songs that have little to do with each other in terms of album flow.

Opener “You Will Find It Here” and the following “Unwrap the Fiend, Pt. 1” are probably the most typical Oh Sees songs on the new album: the former could have easily found a place on any of Dwyer’s latest four or five albums, while the latter makes it clear that they got it right the second time on “Unwrap the Fiend, Pt. 2” from “A Weird Exits.” It doesn’t even seem like Thee Oh Sees bothered to finish “Pt. 1”, which, like fellow “Entrances” track “Jammed Exit”, drags on for way too long without any lyrics. The two instrumentals simply should have been reserved for live jams and private studio experimentation.

Despite the failed experiments of “Unwrap the Fiend, Pt. 1” and “Jammed Exit”, “A Weird Exits” does have its successes. On “The Poem”, Thee Oh Sees have never been more serene and subdued. With a background orchestra of synths, Dwyer opens the door to a completely new potential direction for Thee Oh Sees, embracing a Beatles vibe that could only be intensified by replacing the synths with actual strings in future songs. The jazzy, bossa groove “At the End, On the Stairs” is also successful risk, pointing to another potential direction for Dwyer’s group. “Nervous Tech (Nah John)” closes the short album with a canvas for Dwyer to shred on his guitar for minutes on end, reassuring fans that John’s “still got it”.

“An Odd Entrances” cannot be listened to out of context. If Thee Oh Sees had released this album alone after years without a record, or if this was their debut album, it would be confusing, incoherent, and uninteresting. However, given that Dwyer delivered a record only three months prior to “An Odd Entrances”, the album takes on a more encouraging meaning: the album aptly offers several odd entrances into new musical areas for Thee Oh Sees. Some of these entrances are uninteresting and surely destined to rot away in the studio, but a couple are intriguing and maybe even promising.