Future Bible Heroes, I’m Lonely and I Love It (Merge)
Everything Stephin Merritt does is incredibly stylish and Future Bible Heroes is no exception. Though all the music is done by Christopher Ewen, Merritt’s distinctive voice colors every song.
“I’m Lonely (And I Love It)” is an EP to tide us over til Merritt’s next recording with the 6ths is released and a new Future Bible Heroes album is completed. The four new songs and new remix of “Hopeless” sound like the Future Bible Heroes’ sound is right where they left it two years ago. Which is an extremely good thing. For the uninitiated, the music is an incredibly slick and stylish electronica unlike any electronica one has heard before. The keyboards are sickeningly sweet and drum beats are thin and completely artificial sounding. The artifice is an essential ingredient to their blend. Shades of 80s techno-pop are definitely present, but present as someone remembering the 80s inaccurately. Nothing sounds retro in any way. Part of this may be Merritt’s lyrics and vocal melodies which sweep over every sugary beep and whirr with anachronistic grandness.
The title track is easily the most memorable song. Its surging techno pace and Merritt’s melancholic voice transport it to the heights of Merritt’s greatest work with the Magnetic Fields. “Good Thing I Don’t Have Any Feelings” is another symbiosis of Merritt’s voice and the techno-pop. These two songs present Merritt’s dry wit in perfect context: “All the time I’ve been with you, I wish I’d been alone/Cos I’m lonely as Mt Everest and probably as high/It’s time to buy the records you would never let me buy…”
Elsewhere on the EP, the marriage between music and voice is not as obviously perfect, but as five track EPs go, the great definitely outweighs the less-than-great. The remix of “Hopeless” (a song which now appears on three different recordings) is another bright spot. Claudia Gonson sings this version and the tension between her voice and the electronic squeaks, blips and beeps trying to deconstruct the piano melody in the background keeps one’s ears active. Merritt and crew have clearly seen the greatness of this song and continue to experiment around it.
After last year’s massive 69 Love Songs from the Magnetic Fields, it seems unfair to ask any more of Stephin Merritt for quite some time. We can at least hope he stays miserable and listen to his woe whilst shaking our pale bottoms to the techno pump of Future Bible Heroes.