1999 and first new material in four years by Stephin Merrit 's main band (his side projects include Future Bible Heroes, Gothic Archies and The 6ths). Disc one of a three CD set featuring more wonderful, yet cynically skewed, pop songs as only Merritt (and a midi) can do 'em! 23 tracks.
From Stephin Merrit's Gay and Loud publishing comes the first volume of the Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, a misleadingly quiet epic of a thing. From the layered feedback of "Don't Fall in Love with Me," followed by the plinky strum of his uke through to a Merrittian 23rd psalm, "The Things We Did," this volume, more than the others, hearkens back to the gloriously distorted acoustic agitation visited on The Charm of the Highway Strip. Ever the sad sack, Merritt's characters "don't believe in the sun" and drolly proclaim themselves "ugly" and the stars so "fucking romantic." Dishing up clichés like ice cream cones at a Baskin-Robbins, Merritt's lyrics take on self-involved weightiness in the context of his over-the-top conventions. Marrying electronic elements with banjo, cello, mandolin, piano, accordian, and percussion, these little numbers--sung by a revolving cast of Merritt and cohorts--riff on everything from punk rock to madrigals to Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash-style balladry, coming across as preposterously vaudevillian and Brechtian, rather than vacuous. --Paige La Grone
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