The Magnetic Fields are a band few know and yet, having been around for over a decade, have influenced many. Their mammoth work 69 Love Songs has often been hailed as one of the greatest albums ever made and certainly one of the defining albums of the nineties. So, for me at least, to not have heard of them is a great tragedy.
It must be frustrating for Stephin Merritt to have all his work compared to one album but it should also give him a warm glow inside; after all he was aiming to create the definitive pop album.
Having been signed to Nonesuch for their past three albums (a no-synth trilogy) they have returned to their rightful home on Merge records, under whom they had previously released their other works. Now The Magnetic Fields are putting out their latest album Love at the Bottom of the Sea and it seems to hail a return to the witty songwriting that we heard during 69 Love Songs.
There are fifteen songs all under three minutes long. The songs vary from catchy and cheery to musings on loss and unrequited love, but underneath every song there are the witty lyrics Merritt is known for. Particular highlights would be the album’s first single ‘Andrew in Drag’ about a straight man falling for another man in drag and ‘Quick’, a song from the point of view of a controlling wife. If you’ve ever enjoyed pop music then give this album a spin. You’ll find new depths to a genre you previously thought was only skin deep.
Love at the Bottom of the Sea is out now.