In a sharp turnaround from Magnetic Fields’ previous LP, the boisterous, thoroughly amplified Distortion, their latest release, Realism, contains a liner note caveat: ‘no synths.’ Realism brings the unplugged aesthetic to Stephin Merritt’s wittily acerbic songs – with stirring results.
“You Must be Out of Your Mind” is a classic example of Merritt’s simultaneously humorous and poignant lyrics – a paean to jilted lovers everywhere, exhorting them to avoid their former partners like the plague. A small sampling, “You think I’ll run, not walk, to you, Why would I want to talk to you? I want you crawling back to me, down on your knees, yeah, Like an appendectomy, sans anesthesia…” Ouch!
Meanwhile, “We are Having a Hootenanny Now” celebrates the bluegrass/alt-folk signatures employed throughout the album with a rousing verse, rollicking chord changes, and a dialing back of Magnetic Fields’ ironic propensities in favor of a moment of musical jocularity.
But don’t expect Merritt to refrain from tongue-in-cheek witticisms for long. “Everything is One Big Tree” allows for irony to reign supreme once again; complete with a second chorus in German!
Realism is required listening – It’s been in heavy rotation since its arrival here at 218 Augusta St.!
Sadly, the band’s not letting any of this material out for preview, but RCRDLBL has been kind enough to share a couple tracks from their preceding releases.