Hyacinths and Thistles

Hyacinths and Thistles

by The 6ths
     
 
Stephin Merritt, the mastermind of the 6ths, made his grand statement with the1999 Magnetic Fields release 69 Love Songs, on which he proved that he is one of the most creative songwriters of his generation. Hyacinths and Thistles, which was recorded prior to the Love Songs, is a less

Overview

Stephin Merritt, the mastermind of the 6ths, made his grand statement with the1999 Magnetic Fields release 69 Love Songs, on which he proved that he is one of the most creative songwriters of his generation. Hyacinths and Thistles, which was recorded prior to the Love Songs, is a less grandiose affair. It hearkens back to the early, keyboard-based Magnetic Fields sound, and with few exceptions, uses spare, simple settings designed to keep the focus on the lyrics and the vocals of this collection of ballads. The first 6ths collection, the equally tongue-twistingly titled Wasps' Nests, employed mainstays from the indie-rock world to sing Merritt's songs; Hyacinths casts a wider net for its vocalists, reaching back to resurrect icons of the '60s folk scene (Odetta, Melanie) and '80s new wave (Marc Almond, Gary Numan) as well as several contemporaries (Momus, Sally Timms). While the settings are coherently minimal, the genres span the map, from the Hawiian waves of "Volcana!" and "Oahu" to the Kurt Weill-styled "I've Got New York" to the Brill Building pop of "You You You You You" (beautifully sung by the Squirrel Nut Zippers' Katherine Whalen) and the synth-pop of "Kissing Things," in which St. Etienne's Sarah Cracknell answers Irving Berlin's classic "How Deep Is the Ocean." No matter who's singing, though, these are Stephin Merritt songs through and through -- witty, self-aware, allusive, and brilliant.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Michael Gallucci
Stephin Merritt's the 6ths' second album isn't nearly as dynamic as his Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, nor is it quite as good as the first 6ths' album, Wasps' Nests. It is, however, another crowning achievement for Merritt. "As You Turn to Go," with Scottish eccentric Momus, is one of Merritt's most moving love songs, a tender, irony-free caress. And the atmospheric "Oahu" wraps its spare melody in a package of primitive synth beeps (which repeat the same tranquil loop for the album's concluding 25 minutes). Hyacinths and Thistles falls between Merritt's two musical passions: old-style songwriting and '80s new wave. But the abundant, and diverse, choice of vocalists here (including Sally Timms, Bob Mould, Melanie, Gary Numan, and Marc Almond) puts the accent on the song, rather than the singer. Take this as Merritt the songwriter's demo tape, indication of what he is capable of.
Entertainment Weekly - David Browne
Once again, audio savant Stephin Merritt weaves a seamless work out of an unlikely collection of singers.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/05/2000
Label:
Merge Records
UPC:
0036172948529
catalogNumber:
29485

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

6ths   Primary Artist
Odetta   Track Performer
Marc Almond   Vocals
Melanie   Track Performer
Bob Mould   Vocals
Gary Numan   Vocals
Margaret Leng Tan   Piano
Brian Dewan   Zither
Miss Lily Banquette   Vocals
Sarah Cracknell   Vocals
Clare Grogan   Vocals
Momus   Track Performer
Sally Timms   Vocals
Stephin Merritt   Guitar,Keyboards
Sam Davol   Cello
Ida Pearle   Violin
John Woo   Guitar
Miho Hatori   Vocals
Katharine Whalen   Track Performer
Neil Hannon   Vocals
Claudia Gonson   Piano,Drums
Daniel Handler   Accordion
Dominique A   Track Performer

Technical Credits

Nicholas Cudahy   Engineer
David Merrill   Engineer
Stephin Merritt   Producer
Jon Berman   Engineer

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