You've Been Asleep for a Hundred Seconds

Saturday, September 25, 2004

CD Revue: Magnetic Fields - i

The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt loves to make concept albums. The Charm of the Highway Strip is made up entirely of songs about the road and travel, Holiday is filled with songs about far way places, and the epic triple 69 Love Songs is just that 69 love songs including at least one song beginning with each letter of alphabet. "Xylophone" and "Zebra" are songs that suggest may be that wasn't a good idea. The concept for this album, the band's first tin five years, is songs be ginning with the letter I. Unlike previous concepts seems completely arbitrary. And the songs are arranged in strict alphabetic order which does harm to listening experience because while "I Die" is a good song it doesn't work as an album opener. With the exception of over the top "In an Operetta", the songwriting is just excellent as ever. "I Don't Believe You" and "I Don't Really Love Your Anymore" are classic pop songs. Unlike 69 Love Songs, Merritt sings every song on the album. His voice has vastly improved over the years and his plaintive baritone really unites the songs. The arrangements are really ornate with lots of string in addition to the typical banjo and ukelele touches that are the Merritt hallmark. Some people have said that this album was some sort of sell out because Merritt used real strings and real instruments instead of electronic samples, which is completely stupid its not like Merritt made a specific choice to use synthesizers in the past that was just all he could afford. Now he isn't recording in his kitchen he can get real musicians to flesh out is ideas and on songs like "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend" synths are used on purpose not as a default.


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