69 Love Songs, Pt. 3

69 Love Songs, Pt. 3

by Magnetic Fields
     
 
What you see is what you get with this sprawling concept set -- sort of. Magnetic Fields main man Stephin Merritt (whose other projects include the 6ths, Future Bible Heroes, and the Gothic Archies) has indeed written 69 songs on the topic of love. He's also made the three CDs (available individually or as

Overview

What you see is what you get with this sprawling concept set -- sort of. Magnetic Fields main man Stephin Merritt (whose other projects include the 6ths, Future Bible Heroes, and the Gothic Archies) has indeed written 69 songs on the topic of love. He's also made the three CDs (available individually or as a limited-edition box set) a varied listen by utilizing four vocalists in addition to himself and by employing a variety of styles. Some songs are finely crafted show tunes, some are goofy asides, and some are straight-ahead, wistful pop songs that are in heavy radio rotation -- in some fair, parallel universe. Throughout the collection, Merritt's wordplay is either artful, touching, or both, revealing why he's often called the Cole Porter of the underground. On "Love Is Like Jazz," Merritt casts his subject this way: "It's divine/ It's asinine/ It's depressing/ And it's almost entirely window dressing/ But it'll do." The instrumentation, both organic and synthetic, is simple and complements each song's style: chiming guitars here, new wavey keyboards there, and occasional touches of cello, ukulele, violin, or flute. Merritt initially conceived of 69 LOVE SONGS as a traveling revue performing 100 modern love songs. In fact, 69 will do.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jason Ankeny
As the sprawling magnitude of its cheeky title suggests, 69 Love Songs is Stephin Merritt's most ambitious as well as most fully realized work to date, a three-disc epic of classically chiseled pop songs that explore both the promise and pitfalls of modern romance through the jaundiced eye of an irredeemable misanthrope. A true A-to-Z catalog of touchingly bittersweet love songs that runs the gamut from tender ballads to pithy folk tunes to bluesy vamps, the sheer scope of the record allows all of Merritt's musical personas to converge -- the regular use of guest vocalists recalls his work as the 6ths, the romantic fatalism suggests the Gothic Archies project, and the stately melodies evoke the Future Bible Heroes. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts, however -- for all of Merritt's scathing wit and icy detachment, there's a depth and sensitivity to these songs largely absent from his past work, and each one of these 69 tracks approaches l'amour from refreshing angles, galvanizing the love song form with rare sophistication and elegance. The third disc is even more eclectic than its predecessors, embracing everything from lush pop ballads (the sumptuous "Busby Berkeley Dreams") to winsome folk songs ("Acoustic Guitar") to Reich-ian tape constructions ("Experimental Music Love"). Still, even though each of 69 Love Songs' three discs is available separately, it was nevertheless conceived as a whole and is best absorbed as such, with all of its twists and turns taken in stride; despite its three-hour length the music boasts the craftsmanship and economy that remain the hallmarks of classic American pop songwriting, a tradition Merritt upholds even as he subverts the formula in new and brilliant ways.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/07/1999
Label:
Merge Records
UPC:
0036172946822
catalogNumber:
29468
Rank:
169475

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Magnetic Fields   Primary Artist
Christopher Ewen   Theremin
Stephin Merritt   Ukulele,Vocals
Sam Davol   Flute,Cello
John Woo   Banjo,Flute,Guitar,Mandolin,Accordion,Cello
L.D. Beghtol   Harmonium,Vocals
Claudia Gonson   Percussion,Piano,Drums,Vocals,Human Whistle
Daniel Handler   Accordion
Dudley Klute   Vocals
Shirley Simms   Vocals

Technical Credits

Michael English   Logo
Stephin Merritt   Producer
Eric Masunaga   Engineer
Claudia Gonson   Engineer
Jeff Lipton   Engineer
Charles Newman   Engineer

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