Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Magnetic Fields - Get Lost (1995)

The best way to describe this record would be to compare it to the Pale Blue Dot. It is exceptionally lo-fi, but within its 39 minutes and 58 seconds of length dwells a vast and epic world of song. When interviewed by The Onion's AV Club in September 2005, alternative rock musician Bob Mould was reminded of an interviewer who once referred to him as "the most depressed man in rock," to which Mould responded, "He's never met Stephin Merritt, obviously." Mould couldn't be more correct. Merritt's lyrics on this album reach an unprecedented point in melancholia, which is further accentuated by the sounds that echo from the valleys within his bass vocal range. Amidst a waltz of watery guitar Merritt laments, "Arms have charms, but I've no hope of falling in love," during "With Whom to Dance?." "All the Umbrellas in London" is saturated with synth while Merritt bemoans, "All the umbrellas in London couldn't stop this pain, and all the dope in New York couldn't kill this pain." "Save a Secret for the Moon" has Stephin providing a commentary on a love that might not be acceptable by society's standards and muses, "When you love someone, you can't always tell the sun. It will be twilight soon, save a secret for the moon." That song is the closest thing that the album has to an upbeat track, and the synchronicity of Merritt and Claudia Gonson's vocals is something now revisited in bands like The Postal Service, where the vocals of Gibbard and Lewis work together swimmingly. On a coincidental sidenote, in 1999 under the "¡All-Time Quarterback!" moniker, Ben Gibbard released a cover of "Why I Cry," yet another downbeat gem found on this album. "Smoke and Mirrors" and "Love is Lighter Than Air" are also very, very noteworthy. This album makes its home among many top ten lists, and rightly so. Give credit where credit is due, and boy, is it due!

*** In 2008, this album was released in vinyl format for the first time. On this release, the track listing was altered and completely changes the scope of the record (in a very good way). In fact, I recommend arranging the track listing to match the vinyl format and then give it a listen. The vinyl release track listing is as follows:

1. With Whom to Dance?
2. Smoke and Mirrors
3. All the Umbrellas in London
4. Why I Cry
5. Save a Secret for the Moon
6. Don't Look Away
7. Love Is Lighter Than Air
8. Famous
9. The Desperate Things You Made Me Do
10. You and Me and the Moon
11. When You're Old and Lonely
12. The Village in the Morning
13. The Dreaming Moon

For fans of: Joy Division, The Human League, Future Bible Heroes


No comments: