Critical Writings

Articles and Reviews: MUSIC

Distortion by The Magnetic Fields (Nonesuch)

Stephen Merritt is a man with a pronounced penchant for conceptual unification in his work, as album titles 69 Love Songs and i (all of whose songs began with the letter i) indicate. Arbitrarily imposed formal constraints can often aid composition, lyrically and musically. Distortion well may be his most musically adventurous opus yet, his classically baroque pop sensibility meshing with hazy, reverb-drenched arrangements. Lyrically it ain’t bad either: just check out ‘Too Drunk To Dream’ or ‘The Nun’s Litany’ for the trademark broken-hearted barbed wit. Cole Porteresque turns of phrase meet Psychocandy guitar feedback (or, cello feedback), if you will. Clever, very.


First published in Magill magazine, April/May 2008

 

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