Arts Desk

The Sleigher: Magnetic Fields’ “Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree”

magnetic-fields-realismHO HO WHO: NME just posted this Christmas-themed cut from Realism, the upcoming album from Stephin Merritt's inimitable indie-pop project Magnetic Fields. Merritt says the (largely secular) album is somewhat inspired by the folk singer Judy Collins' variety records, although the disc strikes the Sleigher as the least conceptual Magnetic Fields record in over a decade. Which is cool! But a disc of Merritt-penned holiday tunes would be even cooler!

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: The song's title and opening lines had the Sleigher worried that the weird, witty Merritt was experiencing some unfortunately normal seasonal bliss, but the song quickly takes a turn for the perfectly strange: "Why sit in your dark and lonely room?/Must your every word be sincere?/Here's a vial of laughing-gas perfume/See that people laugh when you're near." Buh-wuh? Anyway, following that comes, according to the album's press notes, a "lusty chorus sung in German." The Sleigher finds it extremely lusty!

AN AMERICAN CAROL: Still, the Sleigher sometimes find himself pining for Magnetic Fields' synthier days—a thought that isn't entirely irrelevant to the subject of holiday songs. Take the group's early anthem "100,000 Fireflies," whose gorgeous, twinkly keys beg for yuletide use. Luckily, Merritt says his three-album moratorium on synthesizers is over following Realism's release. Boys, lock up your Korgs!

CHEER FACTOR: Tough call. Clearly, Merritt is thinking about the false grins we often don this time of year; he's also grinning pretty hard himself. 8/10.

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