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69 Love Songs

The Magnetic Fields

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Album Review

As the sprawling magnitude of its cheeky title suggests, 69 Love Songs is Stephin Merritt's most ambitious as well as most fully realized work to date, a three-disc epic of classically chiseled pop songs that explore both the promise and pitfalls of modern romance through the jaundiced eye of an irredeemable misanthrope. A true A-to-Z catalog of touchingly bittersweet love songs that runs the gamut from tender ballads to pithy folk tunes to bluesy vamps, the sheer scope of the record allows all of Merritt's musical personas to converge — the regular use of guest vocalists recalls his work as the 6ths, the romantic fatalism suggests the Gothic Archies project, and the stately melodies evoke the Future Bible Heroes. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts, however — for all of Merritt's scathing wit and icy detachment, there's a depth and sensitivity to these songs largely absent from his past work, and each one of these 69 tracks approaches l'amour from refreshing angles, galvanizing the love song form with rare sophistication and elegance. Naturally, given a project of this size there's the occasional bit of filler, but all in all, 69 Love Songs maintains a remarkable consistency throughout, and the highlights ("I Don't Believe in the Sun," "All My Little Words," "Asleep and Dreaming," "Busby Berkeley Dreams," and "Acoustic Guitar," to name just a few) are jaw-droppingly superb. Also available as three individual releases, 69 Love Songs was nevertheless conceived as a whole and is best absorbed as such, with all of its twists and turns taken in stride; despite its three-hour length, the music boasts the craftsmanship and economy that remain the hallmarks of classic American pop songwriting, a tradition Merritt upholds even as he subverts the formula in new and brilliant ways.

Customer Reviews

Brilliant - but don't buy it here!

This is a brilliant album of short, bittersweet songs - but it's available on 7digital for £7.99!

I got this in the Secret Santa

My life changed hence on.

Ta Joel.

a glittering, brilliant bouquet of Love Songs

Yes - over the three CDs there are 69 Love sings, spiked with wit, bitterness, a generous dose of fatalism and wry humour… From All my Little Words, to the gloriously pognant Luciest Guy on the Lower East Side, Stephin Merritt pens glittering shards of songs out of plucked banjos, layered guitars, swooning strings and twisted romantic tropes and if there's pain enough in these songs to last a lifetime, there's hope enough to buoy you up until doomsday. The genius is not simply in Merritt's considerable talents as a lyricist, but in the carefully crafted melodies (like the Beach Boys playing Mercury Rev) that will win your heart… As said above: every home should have one.

Biography

Formed: 1990 in Boston, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The Magnetic Fields may be a bona fide band, but in most essential respects they are the project of studio wunderkind Stephin Merritt, who writes, produces, and (generally) sings all of the material. Merritt also plays many of the instruments, concocting a sort of indie pop-synth rock. While the Magnetic Fields' albums draw upon the electronic textures of vintage acts like ABBA, Kraftwerk, Roxy Music with Eno, Joy Division, and Gary Numan, Merritt's vision is far more pointed toward the alternative...
Full bio