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magnetic fields
i • nonesuch • 2004

Stephin Merritt is turning into the Bob Pollard of indiepop! There was 1999's 3-CD box set 69 Love Songs, a new The 6th's album in 2000, a new Future Bible Heroes disc in 2002, two movie soundtracks (Pieces of April and Eban & Charley)...WHEW! But wait! There's more! 'Cause 2004 has brought us a new Magnetic Fields album, cleverly titled i, as all the songs on this disc begin with that very letter.

Much like the drunken Ohio rocker, Merritt, too, delivers so many songs that not all of them can be winners (sorry, Stephin, but the soundtrack work? Snooze.). But this album is great! A really strong return to his fine songwriting. This time around, he's got the lovely Claudia Gonson on piano and percussion, John Woo on banjo and guitar, and Sam Davol on cello. It's a very "organic" sounding release.

He re-works 1998's "I Don't Believe You", making it a bit more speedy. "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend" is a dark, almost sinister, piece, and then on the other end of the spectrum, "In An Operetta" has a quirky baroque quality to it.

His lyrics are in top-form. "I Wish I Had an Evil Twin" made me laugh out loud. Merritt actually reminds me a lot of my favorite author, David Sedaris --- so sharp, witty and wry, with a dark, sick sense of humor. (And both Merritt and Sedaris intimidate me with their cerebral snark.)

So, yay for Magnetic Fields! I say, go get this! (janice.05.04)


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