A blog devoted to the works of Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, The 6ths, Future Bible Heroes, The Gothic Archies, et al. This blog will feature news related to his work, as well as occasional fanboy gushes from the author. Thank you for stopping by, and may all your dreams come true.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Stream Obscurities, New Interview

Obscurities is streaming in its entirety over here!!  It felt like a short listen, but hearing all those new songs is so worth it.  "The Sun and The Sea and The Sky" may already be amongst my favorite Stephin Merritt songs (and therefore amongst my favorite of any songs); why he didn't include it in the final lineup of 69 Love Songs will forever elude me.  Anyhow, many many thanks to Paste Magazine for streaming the album, and you lot should all go listen to it and then buy as many copies of the record next week as you can possibly muster.

Also, Cowbell Magazine just posted this very cool interview with Mr. Merritt wherein he dissects the process of compiling the record and goes into detail about the origins of some of the songs.  In particular, he offers up a scant bit more information on A Buffalo Rome, confirming the singer of "Plant White Roses" once and for all (and after hearing it, it seems slightly obvious).  Furthermore, he continues to mislead with the possibilities of The Song From Venus ever actually being released which is all well and good.

Go listen to Obscurities, I implore you all.  Particularly if you're unfamiliar with some of Mr. Merritt's work from the early 90's, this is a good way to whet your appetite before you take the full plunge and start hunting down old 7" records on eBay.


  1. I really love the line, "you may be right but we have to end now" from that interview.

  2. Perhaps a budding song lyric in the works!!

  3. What do you think of the interviewer's point that recent Magnetic Fields songs have been more "rigid" or subservient to the theme than his 90s lyrics? I have to admit I kind of get what he's saying.

  4. Well, certainly the no-synth trilogy is composed of songs that were put into a certain production style to suit the album as a whole, so there's no real debate in those terms.

    Otherwise, I think a lot of what the interviewer is talking about probably comes from Mr. Merritt working so much in theater. While not all his songwriting is strictly storytelling in nature, I believe he's generally fallen into that mold a little bit more because he's worked in theater so much and HAD to do so. That being said, I don't think it's effected the quality of his work in any detrimental sort of way, which it kind of sort of feels like the writer is trying to say. I could be way off course, and because Mr. Merritt had other obligations, I'll never know.

    But, yeah, it's certainly an interesting point. I see way more of his present-day style in those early TMF records than even Mr. Merritt gives them credit for, but the shift in style over time can't REALLY be denied.

  5. Yeah, I agree most of the evolution comes from his involvement in theater. All this talk about strict rhyming makes me want to go through the no-synth trilogy and see if he cheats at all. I've read several reviews of Obscurities that backhandedly compliment it by insinuating or outright proclaiming the recent Magnetic Fields albums as the nadir of his songwriting. I understand the criticism, with some of the more "precious" songs, but I think it's way too harsh. I continue to enjoy the evolution of my favorite artist.

    ...One other thing, there's a very obvious word rhyming with "Venus" that I was half-expecting to pop up on this record. That's restraint, Stephin.

  6. "Song of Venus"/"Dong or Penis?" I mean, I'm no Stephin Merritt, but there's no denying the quality of that rhyme.

    And, as readers of this blog well know, I am super defensive of all of Mr. Merritt's work, post-69LS and otherwise. I think a large part of the criticism comes from the severe mislabeling of his work early on. People still view The Magnetic Fields as an indie rock band, an insinuation I really couldn't find to be further from the truth. This is why, though I love Merge Records, I always found Nonesuch such a better home for Mr. Merritt than Merge. At the very least, it put him in a more appropriate peer group, though this did little to change this misperception. "Realism" should never have been reviewed as an indie rock album, for crying out loud, because if you approach it with those expectations then you're bound to question the material.