Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 2/14/06.
The third and final volume of the 69 Love Songs opens with the bass-heavy Underwear with its droning bass and Stephin Merritt's baritone vocals as he sings about the joy of seeing pretty people in their underwear as he sings a French chorus with smooth, metallic beats. It's A Crime is a reggae-inspired track in terms of its rhythms and melodies while it's mainly based on synth-pop as the track is sung by guest vocalist Dudley Klute with his soulful, ethereal vocals to Chris Ewen's bouncy arrangements. Klute sings the strange, idiosyncratic lyrics of Merritt that is filled with the disappointments of falling in love. Busby Berkeley Dreams is a simple piano ballad with the piano performed and arranged by Claudia Gonson sung by Merritt who weaves into the melancholia of love in its devastating description. I'm Sorry I Love You is a Bo Diddley-rhythmic track meets country guitars filled with thundering beats and guest vocalist Shirley Simms' raw, countrified vocals as she sings Merritt's lyrics of love at its most desperate. It’s one of the album's biggest standout tracks due to its rhythm and catchy chorus of "Well I'm sorry that I love you/It's a phase that I'm going through/There is nothing that I can do and I'm sorry that I love you".
Next is a lovely gem called Acoustic Guitar sung by Claudia Gonson who sings Merritt's weird, hilarious lyrics of being in love with an acoustic guitar. The acoustic ballad is filled with great catchy lines and how many loves songs would even mention people like Steve Earle, Charo, and GWAR? Gonson's dreamy vocals make this song one of the greatest gems in the entire album. The Death Of Ferdinand de Saussure reaches to the psychedelia of Prince's Around the World in a Day with its string arrangements and simple ode to psychedelia as Merritt leads the way with this acoustic track on lyrics about a man longing to know what love is. Love In The Shadows is a low-key electronic track filled with throbbing beats and bass-chiming synthesizers as Merritt sings very dark descriptions of love in secrecy that suggests of extramarital situations. Bitter Tears is a simple mid-tempo song filled with folk-rock textures from washy guitars from Merritt and John Woo as LD Beghtol sings the track with his more atmospheric vocals to the song's painful side of breaking up.
Wi' Nae Wee Bairn Ye'll Me Beget is a folk-inspired track led by Merritt and Woo on guitars and banjos with Sam Davol on a flute as Merritt sings an old style of British folk on the subject of reincarnation where he aims to be everything from a vampire to a cockroach which reveals Merritt's humor. Yeah! Oh, Yeah! is a guitar-wash driven track led by jangly guitar washes from Gonson, Merritt, and Woo as the song is a lovely duet between Gonson and Merritt. Gonson also does drums as she sings Merritt's lyrics of love in a dueling way as Gonson's dreamy vocals and Merritt's baritone works on all levels. Experimental Music Love is a short, experimental track where the song's title repeats in a loop to convey the band's enjoyment of experimentation. Meaningless is another Velvet Underground-inspired track in its drum settings led by Gonson's thunderous drumming and Merritt's lyrics leading towards cynicism on the ideas of love.
Love Is Like A Bottle Of Gin is a bass-driven track led by Merritt's baritone and an accompanying bass of how love can make any do stupid things in all of Merritt's strange yet funny descriptions as he compares love to many things. Queen Of The Savages is an upbeat, acoustic ditty performed by Merritt with a ukelele as he sings about a girl who is the queen of jungle as she commands her people with John Woo leading the way with a melodic guitar solo in the middle of the song. Blue You is a hypnotic, electronic track led by a theremin performed by engineer Chris Ewen as Dudley Klute sings the song in his eerie, deep vocals to Merritt's worldly lyrics as the song brings chills in its electronic presentation and Ewen's theremin as it closes with Claudia Gonson whistling to the song's eerie tone. I Can't Touch You Anymore is another electronic-inspired track with a more rhythmic track and Merritt's vocals as he reaches towards more robotic vocal ranges as he sings about love gone wrong as the track features great synthesizer melodies and electronic beats. Two Kinds Of People is a short, distorted track led by Merritt's distorted vocals and a fuzzier production with dreamy guitar melodies and Merritt's imaginative lyrics of ideal lovers.
How To Say Goodbye is a song about the aftermath of love as Merritt leans towards the pain of breaking up through a simple, mid-tempo rocker filled with guitars, bass, drums, and a bit of synthesizers in the background. The song is filled with catchy melodies and rhythms with Merritt leading the way as he brings in another great song. The Night You Can't Remember is a Badlands-inspired track in its rhythm and chiming melodies while Sam Davol accompanies the song with his cello and guest musician Daniel Handler's accordion. Merritt leads the way about the joys of love and a great night that is so great, its experience was only brief. For We Are The King Of The Boudoir is an ode to 18th Century classical music with its harpsichord and LD Beghtol's wonderful vocals that plays to the times as he sings Merritt's funny lyrics of royals as if he takes the song back in time.
Strange Eyes is a bouncy, synth-pop track filled with hypnotic rhythms and beats led by Shirley Simms' eerie, enchanting vocals to Merritt's strange lyrics of love filled with crazed metaphors as the song is perfect to Simms' vocals. Xylophone Track is a dreamy, acoustic driven track filled with dreamy guitar melodies and mandolin washes as Merritt leads the way with his blues-laden baritone as he sings a song about the sadness of love through its innocent description and subjects ranging from a mother's love to toys with an accompanying harmonium from LD Beghtol. Closing the third volume and the entire 69 Love Songs collection is Zebra. The smooth circus-rhythm track is filled with more of Merritt's idiosyncratic lyrics sung by the wonderful Claudia Gonson as she is accompanied by Daniel Handler's bouncy accordion. Gonson sings all of Merritt's lyrics of how to win someone's love as Gonson sings, "If you really loved me, you'd buy me the Great Pyramid" and closes the song with the line, "Zelda looks lonely, I want a zebra".
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. 1 - Vol. 2 - (i) - (Distortion) - (Realism)
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