Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 2/14/06.
Absolutely Cuckoo opens the first disc of the 69 Love Songs collection with its swirly synthesizer melodies and washy acoustic instruments with jangly melodies as Stephin Merritt sings the track with his low, baritone track for this short, quirky minute-and-a-half ditty filled with eccentric lyrics of falling in love. I Don't Believe In The Sun is a piano ballad sung by Merritt with Claudia Gonson on piano and drums as Merritt weaves into the melancholy of love as he sings, "How could it shine down on everyone and never shine on me/How could there be such cruelty". All My Little Words is a lovely acoustic ballad led by Merritt and John Woo's acoustic guitar melodies and Woo's banjo playing as guest vocalist LD Beghtol sings lead. Merritt's lyrics are filled with innocence as Beghtol's evocative vocals lead the way with Gonson singing background as words like "It doesn't matter what I do, not for all my little words/Now that you've made me want to die, you tell me that you're unboyfriendable...".
A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off is a country-inspired track with bouncy riffs and rhythms as Merritt leads the way with more of his eccentric lyrics of love with metaphors describing the disappointments as the track is filled with tinges of country guitar riffs and slide textures in its smooth, mid-tempo tone. Reno Dakota is a short, one-minute track sung by Gonson as Woo accompanies her on banjo as the song is sung in a mid-speed track with Gonson singing more of Merritt's odd lyrics including this strange line, "Reno Dakota I’m no Nino Rota, I don’t know the score". I Don’t Want To Get Over You is a lovely, jangly wash of guitar-pop filled with Merritt's melancholic lyrics of trying to get over an ex-lover that is filled with all the desperation of a break-up as Merritt's low, baritone vocals dominate this amazing standout as Merritt accompanies himself with a bass and soft, synthesizer background. Come Back From San Francisco is another ballad filled with Merritt's melancholic lyrics about gay love sung by the ethereal vocals of Shirley Simms as she is only accompanied by a guitar and bass.
The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side is a lovely synth-pop track sung by Dudley Klute with Ida Pearle on accompanying violin. Klute's smooth, soulful vocals lead the way among the song's bouncy melodies of synthesizers and ukelele riffs as he sings the joys of gay love. Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits is another bouncy synth-pop tracks led by Merritt's more distorted, high-pitched baritone vocals and metallic electronic beats filled with shimmering synthesizer melodies. Merritt's vocals are filled with capture imagery in the song's chorus "Let's pretend we’re bunny rabbits, let's do it all day long/Let abbots, Babbitts and Cabots say Mother Nature's wrong and when we’ve had a coupla beers, we'll put on bunny suits". The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be is an acoustic folk-inspired track meets the dreamy arrangements of David Mansfield's score for Heaven's Gate with its shimmering mandolin playing and Merritt's metaphorical lyrics of love as he sings the track. I Think I Need A New Heart is another quirky detour to country with its bouncy melodies and acoustic guitar arrangements filled with wooden rhythms and Merritt's lyrics of broken love.
The Book Of Love is a haunting, acoustic ballad filled with enchanting melodies and Merritt's eerie, baritone as he sings the tale of love in all of its imagery and cryptic description. The song is a true standout not for Merritt as a vocalist but as a lyricist with lyrics like "The book of love is long and boring and written very long ago/It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes and things we're too young to know" that conveys Merritt's power as a lyricist. Fido, Your Leash Is Too Long is a synth-pop, bass-inspired track filled with droning synthesizers and scratchy textures as Merritt goes for the subject of love in an odd way that could be interpreted in many ways. How F*cking Romantic is an acapella-sung track by Dudley Klute as he sings the innocence and playfulness of love with a mention to Rodgers & Hart. The One You Really Love is another acoustic wash filled with more melancholic lyrics of love that is filled with playful reverence and wondrous melodies from Merritt and Woo's acoustic instruments.
Punk Love is a one-minute romp of noisy accordion playing and vocals with words of nothing but "Punk love, punk love, punk rock love" sung repeatedly as the track is filled with fun with Daniel Handler's crazed accordion playing. Parades Go By is another haunting, synth-pop track filled with ominous arrangements and enchanting melodies done by Sam Davol's accompanying flute playing and John Woo's dreamy guitar playing as Merritt sings the track. Merritt's dreamy lyrics is filled with hope this time around in the idea of love. Boa Constrictor is a short, one-minute acoustic track with metaphorical lyrics filled with dark textures as Shirley Simms sings the song as it stands out for its acoustic presentation. A Pretty Girl Is Like... is another short, two-minute acoustic ballad with Merritt singing about the complex nature of a pretty girl with its humorous lyrics and open-interpretation.
My Sentimental Melody is a wandering, synth-pop track sung by LD Beghtol who goes into his dreamy vocals with the song's melancholic vocals where the song does reach into sentimental description of love as he is accompanied by Daniel Handler's melodic accordion. With its layered production, the song shines through Gonson's backing vocals and layers of synthesizer textures in the background. Nothing Matters When We're Dancing is another acoustic ballad played with a ukelele from Merritt as he sings about the joys of love through the simple subject of its title.
Sweet-Lovin' Man is another joyous, synth-pop track sung by Gonson who shines with her winning vocals as she sings Merritt's descriptive lyrics of sweet love. The song’s shimmering, synthesizer melodies shines through the song’s chorus of "For the love of a sweet-lovin man, some have traveled far and wide, some have given up and died/For the love of a sweet-lovin' man, some have broken down and cried, some have turned to dust inside but I'll stay right here and hide in the arms of my sweet-lovin' man". With its bouncy bass and guitar lines, it's a true standout of a pop classic. The Things We Did And Didn't Do closes the first volume with its xylophone-rhythmic tone as Merritt sings about old love returning in his metaphoric lyrics that describes the world of heartbreak in its lovely pop arrangements.
The Magnetic Fields Reviews: (Distant Plastic Trees) - (The Wayward Bus) - (The House of Tomorrow EP) - (Holiday) - (The Charm of the Highway Strip) - (Get Lost) - 69 Love Songs: Vol 2 - Vol. 3 - (i) - (Distortion) - (Realism)
(C) thevoid99 2011