Monday, February 4, 2008
Feature Album Review - Magnetic Fields: Distortion
New York based indie synth pop outfit, Magnetic Fields have recently released their 8th studio album since their formation in 1991.
The somewhat aptly named, Distortion is a nostalgic trip back to the 80’s and beyond. The tracks where Claudia Gonson takes vocals have a distinctive Susanna Hoffs Bangles era type vibe about them. I’m still undecided as to whether that’s a good or bad thing.
Most Magnetic Fields albums in the past have followed a theme of sorts with front man Stephin Merritt playing with the idea that genre is an interchangeable concept one which doesn’t always have to affect the style and ideals behind the music.
This time ’round Merritt has used 'rock’ as his medium of choice. Using its confines to deliver his artistic design, making for a worthwhile listen.
The record in general has an imperfect and (as the name would suggest) somewhat distorted quality about it. I can imagine this being of annoyance to some but I find it to have a warm almost comforting effect, much like the feeling which comes from listening to a much loved vinyl record.
On whole I find the Merritt voiced numbers far more appealing then Gonson’s but that may just be due to The Jesus and Mary Chain comparison which I can’t seem to rid my mind of when listening.
The stand out tracks include ‘Old Fools’, ‘Xavier Says’, ‘Too Drunk To Dream’ and ‘Zombie Boy’. The last of which is probably the most instantly likeable number on the record.
If you enjoy the familiar provided in an unfamiliar way coupled with a tongue in cheek questioning of ‘rock music’ and the basis behind it then Distortion is the album for you. Once again Magnetic Fields have provided their listeners with a smart album filled with more questions then answers but don’t let that scare you away. It’s all part of their charm and I for one wouldn’t have it any other way. Enjoy.