The Magnetic Fields
WebsiteThe Magnetic Fields
Stephin Merritt doesn’t practice mad science on the pop-song form so much as drolly dissect it. As a result, his band, The Magnetic Fields, boasts a 20-year catalog that embraces both cliché and ridiculous wit. From the tacky yet beautifully orchestrated synths of 1990’s Distant Plastic Treesto the sparkling feedback of 2008’s Distortion to the purely acoustic arrangements of 2010’s Realism, the Fields have a way of doing practically the same thing over and over again in the service of new ideas. The new album, Love At The Bottom Of The Sea, is a sort of Sondheim-esque anti-pop musical, with the synthesized sounds of the group’s earliest records backing Merritt’s lyrically unsparing rejection of sentimentality. Because Merritt has a hearing disorder, the live sound is grounded in synths, acoustic guitars, and no drums. Merritt also hates playing live, but his grumpy stage demeanor only adds to the oddball charm.