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i
     

i

5.0 1
by Magnetic Fields
 
With the Magnetic Fields' magnum opus, 69 Love Songs, Stephin Merritt established himself as heir to Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and Stephen Sondheim. Merritt's kept a low profile since, although he's been busy channeling his considerable talents into his side bands the

Overview

With the Magnetic Fields' magnum opus, 69 Love Songs, Stephin Merritt established himself as heir to Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and Stephen Sondheim. Merritt's kept a low profile since, although he's been busy channeling his considerable talents into his side bands the 6ths and Future Bible Heroes, soundtrack work (Eban & Charley; Pieces of April), and musical theater collaborations. The Magnetic Fields return with i, and although the album is inevitably less sprawling -- 14 songs, all sung by Merritt in his sad-sack baritone, all beginning with the alphabet's ninth letter -- it is no less satisfying. What it loses in scale, it gains in coherence. It's a ballad-heavy set of brilliantly witty, sharply written songs that can be tender (the lovely "It's Only Time"), bitter (the thumping "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend"), and hilarious (the show-tune waltz "In an Operetta"). The band eschews synthesizers and other electronics this time (although it doesn't sound like it on the reverb-drenched production of "I Wish I Had an Evil Twin") and relies mostly on cello, piano, acoustic guitar, as well as Merritt's trademark ukulele. The focus is on the lyrics, and they merit the attention: "So you quote love unquote me, well stranger things have come to be," begins "I Don't Believe You," and the punctuation references continue through the song. The Magnetic Fields' i is inimitably idiosyncratic, imaginatively inventive, and indubitably impressive.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Christopher Monger
The explosion of material that resulted in the Magnetic Fields' triple-disc opus 69 Love Songs would've wiped out the average tunesmith, but mastermind Stephin Merritt wields a pen of bottomless ink. Like a long-distance runner, he paced himself, saving up material lest his many guises should grow restless. The 6ths released Hyacinths and Thistles the following year; 2002 saw the sophomore effort from the Future Bible Heroes and the soundtrack to the James Bolton film Eban and Charley; and in 2003 he scored yet another soundtrack, this time to the Katie Holmes drama Pieces of April. Nearly five years after Love Songs, the Magnetic Fields returned with i, a "synth free" collection of love, life, and loss that relies heavily on cello, guitar, and that most selfish of vowels, the letter I. Merritt's kitchen produces pop confections that can rot teeth, but the bitter aftertaste owes more to Randy Newman than it does Belle & Sebastian. He may be a stalker of clever rhymes about hopeless romantics and lost opportunities, but it's the failed and despondent receiving the brunt of his obsessive detail. On the deceptive lullaby "I Was Born," he laments, "Growing older is killing a child who laughed and smiled at anything." The specter of age is not immune to the pain of a broken heart, and the dense Brill Building aesthetic of songs like "I Don't Believe You" and "Looked All Over Town" resonate with the kind of desperation that's usually reserved for the young and naïve, but has manifested itself into -- to quote a song title from the 6ths -- an "Aging Spinster." Musically, i isn't that much of a departure from previous outings, as the "organic" instrumentation is often treated with the same effects that Merritt utilizes on his synth-based recordings. Cabaret-style pieces like "In an Operetta" are lent added weight by the self-described "awful" singer's newfound range, and when he unveils a surprisingly sweet and delicate falsetto on the gorgeous closer, "It's Only Time," the listener's voice breaks right along with him. There are plenty of prolific artists putting to tape their every whim, and Merritt's no exception. He may spread himself thin when overseeing his army of side projects, but when he leads his Magnetic Fields into battle, the results are always in the public's favor.
Rolling Stone - Christian Hoard
There's no denying the bittersweet charisma of Merritt's pop craftmanship.
Tracks - Terri Sutton
In the end, the theme of i turns out to be infinity -- glimpsed in romanic bliss, loneliness and really swell songs.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/04/2004
Label:
Nonesuch
UPC:
0075597968323
catalogNumber:
79683

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. I Die
  2. I Don't Believe You
  3. I Don't Really Love You Anymore
  4. I Looked All Over Town
  5. I Thought You Were My Boyfriend
  6. I Was Born
  7. I Wish I Had an Evil Twin
  8. If There's Such a Thing as Love
  9. I'm Tongue-Tied
  10. In an Operetta
  11. Infinitely Late at Night
  12. Irma
  13. Is This What They Used to Call Love
  14. It's Only Time

Album Credits

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i 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stephin Merrit's voice is so cool. The songs are fun, even though sometimes the lyrics are sad (not sad in a bad way, but just sad). My favorite part about the music is that it's both familiar and different - some of it sounds the same, but it's different from a lot of the music that I enjoy. It just makes you want to get up and dance. I love this album!!!