Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Jesus and Merritt Chain

Psychocandy is the last significant event in popular music production. That's the last thing I've heard which sounds blaringly original. I haven't heard anything else since then that says, 'this is a new way of making records'.
- Stephen Merritt, in a discussion of The Magnetic Fields album Distortion (Drowned in Sound)
...all the pieces matter: 5 Years of Music from The WireIt's been nearly eight years since the monumental 69 Love Songs, and there's been nothing from Stephen Merritt and the Magnetic Fields that has come close to that album's inspiration until now. Merritt reportedly wanted to do something quick, keeping it simple, with Jesus & Mary Chain's seminal recording as inspiration. But thanks to the production, one month turned into 18, and the result is Psychocandy if it were composed by George Gershwin and Morrissey. Distortion marries the tortured, tongue-in-cheek romanticism of a Magnetic Fields song with the Phil Spector with feedback buzzsaw that Psychocandy was, and the result is (nearly) breathtaking.

Album: Magnetic Fields - Distortion

"Three-Way" is a bit of a red herring, with a B-52-like vibe, but it's immediately followed by the inverted Beach Boys turn "California Girls," with the refrain sung by Shirley Simms, "I hate California Girls." Dripped in distortion and reverb, it's beatifully dirty pop at it's best. The other standout track is "Too Drunk to Dream," the kind of depressed love song that only Merritt can write, with the chorus "I gotta get too drunk to dream, because I only dream of you."

Download: "Too Drunk to Dream" [mp3]

Distortion's available for streaming a week early on Rhapsody, and since it's the only album of next week's crop I see worth mentioning, I've probably just killed next weeks Now Downloading post. Oh well. It's that time of year, isn't it?

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