"Realism" (2010) by the Magnetic Fields

I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for weird music. And not many people can do weird music better than Stephin Merritt. From one of the lines in the opening song, “I want you crawling back to me like an appendectomy sans-anesthesia”, set against thickly textured acoustic guitar and xylophone-y instruments; from discovering that the album’s ‘interlude’ was track 2; I was hoping for a weird, wild, and wacky ride – and Mr. Merritt seemed more than happy to oblige.

Realism shows the Magnetic Fields at their best. The instruments work so cleverly off each other – sometimes upwards of 6 or 7 instruments are playing and the resulting sound is so smooth and wonderful that you appreciate how much work has gone into the arrangement and production of this album. It’s not easy to have so many instruments playing different things and make it sound good.

Realism is full of Merritt’s trademark weirdness. His voice is as sublime as ever, and, in contrast to his last album Distortion, this record is just pop-folk songs. And it works. He so cleverly adds his weirdness to folk music and creates something that is as unique as all his other albums have been, but still completely different to his last. Hey, with album titles like “Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree”, what more would you expect?

If you like the Magnetic Fields, this is good. If you like weird pop music, this is good. If you like weird voices, this is good. Buy it. Now.

Choice tracks: You Must Be Out Of Your Mind; Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree; Seduced And Abandoned; The Dada Polka


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