Review of Distortion Album by The Magnetic Fields

The Magnetic Fields
Album Review

The Magnetic Fields Distortion Album

Perhaps best known for their 1999 triple album ‘69 Love Songs’, which sold 130,000 units, The Magnetic Fields are led by New York City’s Stephin Merritt. Throughout February and March they tour America, including a four night residency for Merritt’s homecoming.

The music of The Magnetic Fields is based very much in that of the 1980’s, produced to purposely resemble the sound of pop during the decade. Grinding along with a slow psychedelic riff, ‘Three-Way’ has a hypnotic rhythm that burrows deep into your head, while ‘California Girls’ captures the essence of sun and surf despite being more vitriolic than its jolly tune would suggest. Not disguising its anguish at all, ‘I’ll Dream Alone’ is as sad as the title may suggest, but it’s not all doom and gloom. While the subject of turning to alcohol to mend a broken heart shouldn’t be laughed at, ‘Too Drunk To Dream’ is darkly humorous in how it paints the state of drunkenness to be a great way to forget about your problems.

Regularly featuring the vocal abilities of Claudia Gonson adds a new direction to The Magnetic Fields, no more so than on ‘Drive On, Driver’ in which she sounds extremely similar to Roxette’s Marie Fredrikson. Trying their hand at a Christmas song, ‘Mr Mistletoe’ is about the darker side to the season with Merritt doing a great Bing Crosby impression, while ‘Please Stop Dancing’ is named with a hint of sarcasm as it features a very groovy bass. Throw that into the melting pot and the result is a record very much aimed at a niche market, but with bits of inspiration to make anyone sit up and take notice.

Alex Lai

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