Inncurably romantic? Perhaps. That's if you are talking
a genuine understanding and respect for the melancholic,
bittersweet, hopelessness of romance and love - the
sadness, the joy, the sex - the ongoing drama of love
and the grandiose theatre of longing- all the emotions
that seem to coexist with love and with the orchestra
that appears to drive it. Then yes, you could say it
69 LOVE SONGS is also tirelessly self-referential and
analytical. The album is as much compounded in the droll,
american rehab culture of psychoanalysis as it is in
the spirit of romance. From it's faux broadway showtunes
to its dark, lagubrious soliloquys 69 LOVE SONGS is
the musical equaivalent of a Woody Allen love burlesuque.
A little "Love and Death", a little "Hannah
and Her Sisters", and certainly a little "Everything
You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid
To Ask". There's certainly no doubting the drama
of the thing, that's for sure, as it sweeps you breathlessly
along in its sweet but difficult spirit which is as
infectiously universal as it is ruthlessly listenable.
A little bit Human League, a little bit Ethel Murman,
a little bit Brian Wilson, a more than a little bit
Judy Garland. Always with a whimper. Always with a bang.
The idea for 69 LOVE SONGS (or so the story goes -
and it's a good one) is that Stephin struck on the idea
whilst sitting in a midtown Manhattan gay piano bar.
Stephen is said to have originally contrived the idea
of it taking the form of a live musical revue, performed
with a rotating cast of singers in the plush hotel bars
and cabarets of New York City. Too long to be a "100
Love Songs" Merritt arrived at the number"69" due to
its visual appeal as an illustration.
'Concept albums' are nothing new in The Magnetic Fields
camp. All the albums prior to this have had somekind
of recurrent themes and motifs: the longing for escape,
the monstrous etc, so it was a natural enough progression.
The songs on a another front mark the contractual obligation
of his tie to Merge records, as it's now some 3 years
since the last Magnetic release. But if obligations
come as good as this, lets hope he feels obliged to
provide another. Rolling Stone magazine would certainly
have it so placing it at #9 in their top 20 albums of
2000. The editor of Amazon also placed it mighty highly
in their review of the year.
But what plans does Stephin have for the immediate
" 69 Love Songs may become a stage revue, but
Iím writing a film musical with Daniel Handler, the
novelist, and our accordion player. The film will be
called THE SONF FROM VENUS. Itís a science-fiction love
story about a record from Venus that invades the Earth
and makes people fall in love. "
While writing 69 LOVE SONGS Stephin adhered to strict
three-songs-a-day quota, something which he's always
alleged to be successful. Even by Stephin's own admission
most of the songs came out well, but a few of them didnít,
and he threw them away. But what's the loss when you're
Stephen is currently planning a US tour in March/April
with possible European and Japanese dates to follow.