The Magnetic Fields – The House Of Tomorrow

How do you feel about repetition repetition repetition? Every one of these five songs is based on a 7 second music loop on impressario Stephin Merritt’s cheap keyboards (though they’re a bit more expensive than last time). At least this time they sound like keyboards set on actual instruments instead of ‘MIDI’. Oh, and instead of being sung by a prettyvoiced chanteuse they’re now sung by Mr. Merritt himself, and he sings in an extremely deep, extremely monotone baritone. Progress!
This is a very clever record, but it’s also a very immature record. Everything is in service to the concept and there’s no room for any personality other than a bookish funny guy amusing himself in-between play recitals. The first two songs are love songs, the third a neutral love song, the last two out of love songs. And they are all exceedingly clever lyrically, and catchy musically (I dig repetition repetition repetition). None of them even hint at actual self-expression, just cute stories with a couple tricks thrown in (particularly the gender-confusing “Technical (You’re So”)), but all it can do for me is make me smile at a lyric about loving a world-crossing libertarian. Put prosaically, this sounds like a work by a talented man, not an inspired one.
And I do dig the fake band (particularly the fake banjo on “Love Goes Home To Paris In The Spring”), but god damn do those fake drum sounds start to grate on me. Step it up, Ser Stephin Merritt, and you may be onto something here.

7 / 10


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