Pieces of April by Stephin Merritt | 75597986020 | CD | Barnes & Noble
Pieces of April

Pieces of April

by Stephin Merritt
     
 
Stephin Merritt -- the songwriter behind the Magnetic Fields, the 6ths, and the Gothic Archies -- demonstrates his multifaceted talent once again by crafting a soundtrack for Pieces of April, starring Dawnson's Creek cutie Katie Holmes as a suburban refugee trying to

Overview

Stephin Merritt -- the songwriter behind the Magnetic Fields, the 6ths, and the Gothic Archies -- demonstrates his multifaceted talent once again by crafting a soundtrack for Pieces of April, starring Dawnson's Creek cutie Katie Holmes as a suburban refugee trying to reconnect with her family. The disc begins, "All I want to know is do you still want me? / And, if not so, why do you still haunt me?" This is the kind of gorgeously clever lyric that Merritt's known for; this talent, combined with his simple yet lovely arrangements, has earned him both critical acclaim and a rabid fan base. Set atop a cushiony bed of synths laid with Claudia Gonson's pillowy harmonies and a sitar coverlet, the lines are delivered by Merritt in a morose voice that suggests he knows the painful answer. "All I Want to Know" is one of four new Mag Fields songs here -- the first since 1999's mammoth 69 Love Songs -- and it's a welcome return highlighted by "Heather Heather" ("Heather Heather / We belong together / Like sex and violence / Like death and silence," Merritt intones over an arrangement suggesting a music box gone awry) and the swooning, cello-led "Stray with Me." Merritt also composed one song specifically for the film, the longing love song "One April Day," led by a picked ukulele melody. The slim disc, which clocks in at under half an hour, is rounded out by five standouts from 69 Love Songs and the 6ths album Hyacinths and Thistles, including the adorably melancholy "The Luckiest Guy in the Lower East Side," sung by Dudley Klute, and the spare "You You You You You," a showcase for the velvety vocals of Squirrel Nut Zippers chanteuse Katherine Whalen. Pieces of April is a must for Merritt fans, with its palate-whetting taste of new material, and a compact introduction for the curious.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Johnny Loftus
In Pieces of April, love is an underused back stairway. Everyone knows where its long flights and landings lead. But the fire escape is a quick, hardened route to the same location, and there's no one to pass on the way up or down. Stephin Merritt's music makes similar decisions. His tunes are steeped in city-person cynicism and the recognition of melancholy as a means to an end. However, they're often laced with true-love pixie dust, and cause hangovers of the headily romantic variety. Pieces of April features ten electronics and guitar-tinged pop songs made by Merritt: four previously unreleased Magnetic Fields songs; "One April Day," written exclusively for the film; three from the 1999 opus 69 Love Songs; and two from the 6ths' Hyacinths and Thistles, with featured vocalists. It's pointedly brief (the entire album occurs in under 27 minutes), but Merritt showers each moment of April with ridiculously perfect raindrops. The new "Stray With Me" extrapolates a happy relationship through better and worse, wedding cakes and wakes -- but its burbling bottom end and cut-up cello suggest the soundtrack to a dream sequence. 69 Love Songs lark "The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side" is the production number from a forgotten sad-sack musical, and in "As You Turn to Go," Momus annunciates the classic line "I know you've had more loves than Mata Hari/But you know that you're the star of my life story" with an exquisitely rendered mixture of decadence and true longing. Merritt himself is so droll, he can make the resignation of "I Think I Need a New Heart" sound romantic. "I always say I love you when I mean turn out the light/And I say 'let's run away' when I just mean 'stay the night'" -- the song's chamber country bop just gives the jaded lyrics more sting. Merritt understands that in a crowded city (or an estranged family), love might be on an "as long as you're here" basis. But behind the emotional wounds, punk rock bangs, and spend-the-rent rebellion, everyone wants to believe in the same three words.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/04/2003
Label:
Nonesuch
UPC:
0075597986020
catalogNumber:
79860

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