Must disagree strongly with the positive press lauding the Magnetic Fields’ Distortion, including Christgau’s raves. Principally, the record is unlistenable — distorting the MF’s usually low fi equipment and cheap (but usually clean) recording techniques simply makes the point of the songs, which are the words, harder to hear and harder to care about. And to my tastes (obviously not universal), the fact that Merritt’s historical fantasies and Broadway-Hollywood musical reference points have been definitively replaced, over this decade, with gothic, means that the songs move away from the satire and irony that ring true, or rather “true,” and into more obscure realms that do not. No, you don’t need to explain to me the meaning of monsters. I get it. That’s the point.
People who made too much of the renowned (and excellent) 69 Love Songs are looking for Merritt to be their seer. Sure it’s follow-up, i, only hit it about two out of three and it’s concept meant less then it aimed for, but that’s true of 69 Love Songs too. On the other hand, i contains the best song Merritt will ever write, the perfect “I Don’t Believe You,” which sums up everything he has to say, and will make you laugh time and again.
If you can’t achieve bemused knowledge on the first listen to a Merritt song, or if the references aren’t already second nature to you, you generally won’t learn more by listening four times time or doing dissertation research. Artists who live by their words shouldn’t make you dig them out painfully.
Filed under: Magnetic Fields | 3 Comments