Magentic Fields, 69 Love Songs, Vol. 3

magneticfields-69lovesongsas you may know, from reading my other reviews, one of my pet peeves is the decline of the album as a work unto itself. it seems a rare thing when a band makes a coherent record with each track as important as the others. these days, it’s all too common for a band to record one single and a bunch of filler around it and release it as an ‘album.’

enter: the magnetic fields.

they haven’t released just one brilliant album this month. they’ve released THREE: 69 love songs, volumes 1 – 3. that’s right, three albums, 23 songs on each one.

i started with volume 3.

the magnetic fields play with a melancholy mood, but beneath the surface, there is a reserved joy or hope. in ‘acoustic guitar,’ claudia gonson delicately sings a lament to her guitar saying ‘bring me back back my girl.’ in the last verse gonson softly threatens, ‘if you think i play hard/well, you could have belonged to steve earle, or charo or gwar/i could sell you tomorrow/so bring me back my girl.’ it’s wicked humor in the face of the abyss, for the magnetic fields.

the best thing about this album is that there’s no dropoff in quality. though they may be stylistically diverse, each tune is catchy and moody and complements the album. it is truly remarkable how the neo-folk-dirge ‘two kinds of people’ and the bouncy 80’s reggae-tinted pop of ‘it’s a crime’ stand together on one album.

at times, the tone of stephin merrit’s voice and even his lyrics reach m. gira (of the swans) depths, but his funereal moments are matched by the absolute hilarity of his lyrics. ‘no rose conveyed your sentiments,/not even a petunia/but you’ve got vague presentiments/and i’ve got little junior,’ he sings in ‘the night you can’t remember.’

this is as magnificent an album as i can imagine. each song is a lovely surprise. and this is only one volume. there’s 46 more songs awaiting me…