The Magnetic Fields are my favorite band and Stephin Merritt is my favorite musician. His love songs seems to be written for his love for the songs themselves rather for the characters that happen to occupy the lyrics. The range of songs with this band is almost as wide as the range of every song ever written. For me, music gets no better.
see The 6ths, Future Bible Heroes, The Gothic Archies, Stephin Merritt
House of Tomorrow
Suggested First Purchase: The Wayward Bus/Distant Plastic Trees
Distant Plastic Trees (1989) -- This stunning first album features the beautiful voice of Susan Anyway while Stephin Merritt makes whispy ethereal tracks that are impossible not to fall in love with. The indie hit "100,000 Fireflies" closes the album.
The Wayward Bus (1991) -- The last album to feature Susan Anway was eventually released (by Merge) with Distant Plastic Trees (separated by a John Cage-ish silent track). Lots of the album sounds like a tribute to Phil Spector and ABBA, which is a good thing. Another spectacular album.
The House of Tomorrow EP (1992) -- This EP begins Merritt's singing full time. The five songs are "loop songs," where of few seconds of the instrumental is repeated over and over (which isn't as bad as it sounds). The highlights are "Young and Insane" and "Love Goes Home To Paris in the Spring."
Holiday (1994) -- The theme of this album is happiness and escape, and the music fits it with some of the most danceable tracks to this point. The songwriting by this point is becoming less starry-eyed and more pop-driven, which is neither better nor worse, only different. Almost every song is wonderful, the absolute best ones being "Deep Sea Diving Suit," "Torn Green Velvet Eyes," and "Take Ecstasy with Me."
The Charm of the Highway Strip (1994) -- Merritt's dark album of long roads, country songs, and vampires. Wonderful stuff. "Born on a Train" and "When the Open Road Is Closing In" are among the best.
Get Lost (1995) -- Has more weak tracks than usual (though I love even the weak ones) but also more giddily poppy and perfect ones. Highlights include "The Desperate Things You Made Me Do," "You and Me and the Moon," "Save a Secret for the Moon," "Love Is Lighter Than Air," and "All the Umbrellas in London."
69 Love Songs (1999) -- The title says it all: three CDs of love songs played in sixty-nine different genres of music, all with that unique Merritt flare. The amazing thing is, after three hours you're not bored and the songs themselves are even better than the concept. I believe this is the perfect finishing album of music for this century.
i (2004) -- It was appropriate to make such a simple little album after making 69 Love Songs, though the "organic" approach to the songs taken here is about the same as the one taken on that album. This, like Get Lost, isn't as superamazing as everything else -- sometimes Stephin's attempt to make himself a songwriter like Irving Berlin sacrifices the fact that he's also an excellent producer/arranger and he lets that aspect of his music go by the wayside -- but still more excellent than "regular" music. "It's Only Time" should be sung at weddings everywhere.
Distortion (2008) -- This time we go in the opposite direction of i with not only production but one kind of production: distortion. My guess is that the songs would be better in undistorted forms, but however they come out, they're still the songs of my dreams. My favorites are "California Girls," "Drive On Driver," "Too Drunk To Dream," "I'll Dream Alone," and "Courtesans."
Copyright (c) Jul 2000 - May 2008 by Rusty Likes Music