Stephin Merrit : Obscurities

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Stephin Merrit : Obscurities



Although it makes sense to package this collection of odds and ends from late last century under the ‘Stephin Merritt’ umbrella, it wasn’t really until after 1999’s classic 69 Love Songs that Merritt started to record music – mostly soundtracks – under his own name. Although his main vice was The Magnetic Fields, he also recorded as The Gothic Archies, Future Bible Heroes and The 6ths. He’s the one constant factor, but almost always surrounds himself with a variety of collaborators who fall in line with his eye-rolling, deadpan vision.


The best songs on this compilation are the more pared-back, voice-and-ukelele numbers, Forever And A Day and The Sun And the Sea And the Sky. Elsewhere, alternate takes on familiar songs with different vocalists give them subtle new twists. A couple of clunkers slip through the net (Scream ‘Till You Make The Scene swiftly prompts the skip button), but the jumps from morose ballads from musicals to lo-fi electro-pop from audiobooks are fun and make up for the inconsistencies.


The more recent Magnetic Fields albums have been more measured and disappointingly short on surprises. The unevenness of this collection somehow actually ends up being a positive – this was, after all, one of the things that made 69 Love Songs so endearing.




Best track: The Sun And The Sea And The Sky

If You Like These, You’ll Like This: Wasps Nest THE 6THS, 69 Love Songs – Disc 3 MAGNETIC FIELDS

In A Word: Droll