Justin Mathew Dennis |Staff Writer|
The Magnetic Fields return to their roots in their 10th musical contribution.
The band is categorized in the pop genre, with subgenres in indie synthpop and noise pop.
The leader of the band, songwriter Stephen Merritt, founded the band as a vehicle for his lyrics.
Merritt and his friend Claudia Gonson, who were band-mates in high school, formed the group that is now known as The Magnetic Fields.
Other members of the band, Sam Davol and John Woo, have worked together to create their unconventional sound since 1991.
The group’s skills and abilities were really showcased on their 1999 three-disc album 69 Love Songs.
The album demonstrated their musicianship with use of a variety of instruments like the ukulele, banjo, accordion, cello, mandolin, flute, xylophone and marxophone, along with their usual synthesizers and guitars. The album definitely exhibited Merritt’s songwriting abilities through its deep lyrics.
Though the band is known for their music with the synthesizer, they did release three albums that Merritt termed the “no-synth” trilogy. I (2004), Distortion (2008), and Realism (2010). They were made without synthesizers, but the change in sound effects opened the group up to the other subgenre of noise pop.
Their album, Distortion, was an experiment in combining noise pop with their own typical music approach.
After the “no-synth” trilogy, Merritt said in an interview with the website Drowned in Sound, “The next album produced will feature synthesizers almost exclusively.”
Love at the Bottom of the Sea is their next album being released this month.
“Instead of using a synthesizer as a melodic instrument, much of the time I used it as a compositional destructive mechanism, something eating away at the apparent order of my perfectionist arrangements,” said Merritt. “I was very happy to be using synthesizers in ways that I had not done before.”
The sound of this new album essentially takes the group back to their earlier sound, back to the synth-driven pop. This style was highly used in their works in the mid ‘90s, like in their album The Charm of the Highway Strip.
NPR Music says the album Love at the Bottom of the Sea is filled with confused and otherwise conflicted love songs that explore many facets of forbidden romance.
The theme is clear in their first song on the album entitled “God Wants Us to Wait.” The lyrics clearly portray the forbidden love in the title itself, but the song also has a very playful sound.
The songs on this album are quick and simple. The longest track of the album totals out to be 2:39 and the total length is a lightning-quick thirty-four minutes.
The full length album may be short, but Magnetic Field fans and music lovers will not be disappointed.