Magnetic Fields

Love at the Bottom of the Sea (Merge)

SXSW 2012 Records

Magnetic Fields

Love at the Bottom of the Sea (Merge)

The abiding narrative, that this is the Mags' big return to electronic music, is overplayed. Yes, Stephin Merritt & Co. have found pretty new toys to play and play with – new synthesizer tech that does things beyond their last electo-cuting, the landmark 69 Love Songs (Merge), before they "unplugged" for the i, Distortion, and Realism trilogy (Nonesuch) – but the lasting impression is in the lyricism and melody. Their liberal word-cram of mixed meter and sea-shanty pentameter is on full display on instant jaunty novelties like "Andrew in Drag," "My Husband's Pied-a-Terre," and "God Wants Us To Wait." High points include the haunting yet hysterical "Your Girlfriend's Face," but where the wordplay really gets in its cups is the Lee Hazelwood/Leonard Cohen rumble of "I've Run Away To Join the Fairies" and Marty Robbins grave-churner "All She Cares About Is Mariachi." Even saying the song titles aloud is a sing-along. (Fri., 8:45pm, ACL Live at the Moody Theater)

***.5

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