Monday, July 2, 2012

The Magnetic Fields - "Distortion" (LP Review)

The Magnetic Fields pay homage to The Jesus and Mary Chain.  If your reaction to that statement is "who and who?!", then you're not going to appreciate this LP.  "Distortion" is the 2008 TMF LP that borrows heavily from the aural aesthetic of TJAMJ's 1985 noisy masterpiece "Psychocandy". 

In itself, that's not such a big deal -- lots of bands wish they could make something as good as "Psychocandy".  When TMF does it, it is a big deal.  Not only is their sound more in a synth & folk pop sound, TMF's leader Stephin Merritt has hyperacusis, which explains in part why TMF has typically has a muted and restrained sound (and why the live performances of these songs are not done in the typical TMF style and  TJAMC style).

I think this is a fun LP -- every band should do a Psychocandy homage -- but the song writing does not approach the genius of something like "69 Love Songs".  There are no bad songs and some are quite good, but the production is a bit of a gimmick.  Granted it is a gimmick I like, but this should not be your first TMF LP.

Standout songs: "Threeway" (live), "California Girls" (live), "Please Stop Dancing", "Too Drunk To Dream", "I'll Dream Alone", "The Nun's Litany".

Skip 'em songs: none.

Final score: 7/10.  Essential only for TMF and/or TJAMC fans.

Bonus links: "Just Like Honey", "Taste of Cindy".

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