The Magnetic Fields – Love At The Bottom Of The Sea

It’s late and all, but the reviewing train has to keep on truckin’. And with crazyman Stephin Merritt at the helm you never know what concept could be up next. Maybe he’ll have a concept album about words that rhyme with ‘chair’! Maybe he’ll have a concept album where each song represents a letter of the alphabet! Maybe it’ll be an album about the sky and the colour blue! Or maybe it’ll just an album of dance songs that are between two and two and a half minutes long. Sigh.
Here’s the basic formula: think of a progressive song title (bonus points if it’s cloying and/or pretentious), then think of a bunch of words that rhyme with said title, then come up with a dozen or so quick verses that end with one of said rhyming words, then repeat the song title a few times. Success!
All of this is above synthesized dance music, not a bit of which sticks around, at least not in my mind. It’s all rather tired, but in classic Magnetic Fields style the album yields a few amazing songs to offset all the blah. “God Wants Us To Wait” is almost hilarious (and very catchy), and the tale of falling in love with a friend’s dance dare “Andrew In Drag” is just as funny (and VERY catchy), and late-album winner “Quick!” is positively Stars, all creative uses of the title word to drive the melody and hints of genuine emotion.
But the rest…gah, fuck. There’s a song called “I’d Go Anywhere With Hugh,” and I hope you “like” that pun because the song sure as fuck won’t let you forget it. There’s a couple dumb crooning songs. There’s an infernal dance song called “Infatuation (With Your Gyration),” and I hope you like that one rhyme because the song sure as fuck won’t let you forget it. There’s a song proudly titled “My Husband’s Pied-A-Terre,” and like the other songs in this paragraph it’s just a silly, short dance song that nobody would ever dance to. The song I wrote about Stalin last night is better than these gnobblers! He sounds so proud of every somewhat clever rhyme, as if those are substitutes for content! There isn’t a single song with memorable music! There’s an awful mariachi song! Gah, make it stop!
But dem three songs. That’s gotta be worth average, at least. But god damnit, thinking of all the times you can rhyme a city name with a verb doesn’t make music interesting. And they ARE capable of being clever when they went – like that one time they describe fighting as “like the mating calls of sarcastic sharks,” but most of this serves to make me think Stephin Merritt (or at least his songwriting persona) is a (talented) bag of ass. But dem three songs! Yet I’m so glad that it’s over, and you will be too.

5 / 10


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