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KUMD Album Reviews: The Magnetic Fields
Stephin Merrit has always crafted albums around themes. With Love at the Bottom of the Sea, the tenth album with main songwriting vehicle The Magnetic Fields, the theme is less obvious than its predecessors. The last three Fields albums focused on folk music, feedback and the alphabet (respectively) and comprised the “no-synth” trilogy. Perhaps the theme involves the return of prominent synthesizers. Maybe it has to do with short, vibrant pop songs, none of which approach the three-minute mark. Whatever the theme, the latest Fields album sounds like a return to form.
The songs echo the Fields' electro-acoustic releases of the early '90s with pop songs bolstered by strings and unusual percussion instruments. Of course, the main draw of any Stephin Merrit release is the lyrics. Coupled with a razor-sharp musical focus, Merrit's wry, witty lyrics have made The Magnetic Fields one of the most sustainable and memorable indie-pop groups of the last two decades. What better time for a "return to form" album? Highlights include the ironic shuffle of "Goin' Back to the Country", the 21st Century concerns of "The Machine in Your Hand", and the hilariously vindictive lyrics of "Your Girlfriend's Face".
Recommended if you like: Belle & Sebastian, Dntel, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
Essential Tracks: "Infatuation (With Your Gyration)", "Andrew in Drag", "The Machine in Your Hand"