Distortion, Magnetic Fields

11th January 2008 at 00:00

It would take an unusual lyricist to find new and distinctive slants on pop's oldest subject - love. But Stephin Merritt, arch songwriter of New York band the Magnetic Fields, found 69 of them - hence their most famous work, 69 Love Songs, a triple album from 1999, is now a staple of "best albums of all time" lists. "Punk Love", "Love is Like Jazz", "Love Is Like A Bottle Of Gin", "The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be", even "Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits" - pretty much anything you could think of, and a few things you couldn't, is there.

Now they are back with a new album Distortion, released on Monday, which will no doubt further Merritt's reputation for outrageous rhymes and perhaps the deepest voice in pop now that Johnny Cash and Lee Hazlewood are no longer with us.

Musically, what to expect? Well, previous work hops from ukulele-strummed ballads to early 80s synthpop to overblown musical theatre and back again via Jesus Mary Chain-style noise within the space of a few songs, so the answer is probably "who knows?" But all will be held together by Merritt's outrageous rhymes and dourly witty persona.

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