Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Magnetic Fields: "Love At The Bottom Of The Sea" (album review)

I'm always excited to find out what theme Stephin Merritt has come up with for his latest Magentic Fields records.  On the new one, Love At The Bottom Of The Sea (out March 6th), he takes a definite electronic turn.

Taking that into account, one shouldn't be shocked when you're smacked in the face by the bloated beats that introduce "God Wants Us To Wait". Zips and blips slash their way across "Your Girlfriend's Face".  With the first bars of "All She Cares About Is Mariachi", I was concerned that a Cameo song was about to burst out.


"Machine In Your Hand" sounds like an internal combustion engine that is misfiring on one cylinder.  The lilting "I Don't Like Your Tone" feels like little puffs of steam escaping.

Merritt can't help but allow the pop sensibility to percolate to the surface from time-to-time.  The lead single "Andrew In Drag" is boasts a catchy chorus about cross-dressing.  Elsewhere, "Quick!" has an indie pop sound that is reminiscent of The New Pornographers.  A hurky jerky New Wave groove takes us away on "Infatuation (With Your Gyration)".

There's a surprising amount of filler this time around too though.  "Only Boy In Town" is plodding, as is "My Husband's Pied-a-Terre".  Despite the double entendre of "I've Run Away To Join The Fairies", it's a rather bland track.  While not quite in the 'filler' category, "Born For Love" is a sloppy mess of splattering beats.

Love At The Bottom Of The Sea is certainly no 69 Love Songs, but what is right?  It is, however, another collection of entertaining songs that take a concept and let Merritt's sense of humour run wild with it.

The Magnetic Fields play the Sound Academy in Toronto on March 30th.


Best tracks: "Andrew In Drag", "Infatuation (With Your Gyration)"

Track listing for Love At The Bottom Of The Sea:
  • God Wants Us To Wait
  • Andrew In Drag
  • Your Girlfriend's Face
  • Born For Love
  • I'd Go Anywhere With Hugh
  • Infatuation (With Your Gyration)
  • Only Boy In Town
  • Machine In Your Hand
  • Goin' Back To The Country
  • I've Run Away To Join The Fairies
  • Horrible Party 
  • My Husband's Pied-a-Terre
  • I Don't Like Your Tone
  • Quick!
  • All She Cares About Is Mariachi
7.0/10

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