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The Magnetic Fields

Distortion (Artist)

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Stephin Merritt records under many monikers, but The Magnetic Fields are arguably his most popular project. Merritt tends to create unique themes that run along perfectly with an album’s title. The 1999 box set 69 had 69 love songs, and the 2004 release I contained all tracks that began with the letter. His love for theme albums continues on his newest album, Distortion.

In addition to staying true to its title, there are also numerous songs about lost love and unconventional sex. Most notably is “Three-Way,” in which the song’s title is chanted over a background of intensely poppy music. Other outstanding tracks include “Too Drunk to Dream,” in which Merritt laments that sober life is not worth living when he is so in love, and “The Nun’s Litany” where Shirley Sims sings about becoming a cobra dancer, brothel worker and dominatrix.

Distortion appropriately employs a heavy use of fuzzed-out electric guitars. Nice.

If you are not already a fan of The Magnetic Fields, this album’s tendency toward an ambient blur of feedback might not be the best place to start. Listen to the poppier I and Get Lost before delving into Distortion. If you are already familiar with the Merritt canon, this newest release will be a great addition to your collection.

Caitlin Boersma is the alternative music director at KUPS 90.1 FM Tacoma (The Sound).

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