Stephin Merritt – Pieces Of April

Today I replace my iTouch. It’s been a good four years and eleven months. I’ll always remember how it came for free with my laptop (which is also near to death). I’ll also remember the dozen or so times I thought it was dead for sure but it brightened my life by somehow soldiering on. These include the time I cracked its screen three years ago by dropping it in a Walmart parking lot the day I bought my air conditioner, the two times I managed to completely immerse it in water, the two times it started turning off every five minutes for over a day each time, and the time I desperately tried to get it to start again by jabbing a Q-Tip in the headphone jack (which worked). But now the battery life has dwindled to less than an hour and it’s time to say goodbye. The Wi-Fi never worked, but the volume always went louder than the volume on my phone. If old devices had feelings I’d wish for a pleasant trip down my building’s garbage chute. Because, as my father used to say, “if I can’t take it to the gym, what’s the good of it?” Okay, my father didn’t really say that.

This album is as long as the list of people I hate: about twenty-seven minutes. Just seven new songs, since three are nicked from 69 Love Songs (including the fantastically great “I Think I Need A New Heart” and the overrated fart-buzz of “The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side). This is the soundtrack to a movie I would never have heard of it didn’t have Katie Holmes in it, who was pretty goddamned hot when I was a teenager. I didn’t see it, though.

But I do “see” that this is an obvious stopgap from a man coming off a run of amazing output, and the new songs here sound like outtakes from 69 Love Songs, meaning they’re pretty really good. Nothing special lyrically (just the usual cleverness and bad puns), just another bunch of love songs with solid melodies and the voice of a taciturn, superbass gay guy (not that his gayness is relevant) crooning all over it. It works, but materially this is shorter than many EPs, and Katie Holmes doesn’t look as good with red hair.

7 / 10

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