The Magnetic Fields
The Magnetic Fields' Distortion continues frontman Stephin Merritt's penchant for aptly titled albums. But, unlike 69 Love Songs, i and The Charm of the Highway Strip, Merritt's latest owes its name not to lyrical content but to the wall of white noise pinning up his brilliantly blunt lyrics.
Merritt credits The Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy for influencing his sonic shift. "We wanted to sound more like Jesus and Mary Chain than Jesus and Mary Chain," explains Merritt. But if The Jesus and Mary Chain were a post-punk Velvet Underground hopped up on Dilaudid, Merritt has transformed The Velvet Underground into show-tune-belting stars on Broadway. The stand-out gem "Too Drunk to Dream" sounds like it could inspire a choreographed chorus line of heartbroken drunks singing, "I got to drink wine not to pine for you, and god knows that ain't cheap."
Distortion is the most subtly genius of The Magnetic Fields' albums---a pleasure for any fan and a second chance for Merritt detractors. From the opening dentist's drill whine of "Three Way" to the final ebb of orch-pop feedback, Merritt allows his deeply bitter love songs to move beyond the rinky-dink goofiness of synthesizers and ukuleles to stand true as the unsympathetic masterpieces his lyrics demand they be.