Celebrate The Misery 7 inch
By: Eric G.
My only complaint about The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs was Stephin Merritt's frequent shirking of his vocal responsibilities. I understand the reasoning behind his decision to bring outsiders into the fold; he didn't want listeners to get sick of his voice over the course of three hours of music. Fair enough. Perhaps I was unfair when I blamed Flare's LD Beghtol for mucking up some of Merritt's songs simply because he wasn't Merritt, but I honestly hope the next Magnetic Fields album features no extraneous singers. I can finally listen to Beghtol and his band Flare without Stephin Merritt's looming shadow. Well, almost…
Merritt re-mixed the A-side of this seven-inch, which contains Flare's previously released song "Celebrate The Misery." Not having heard the original I can't describe Merritt's changes, but what's left is a plodding mass of dubbed atmospherics and gothic airs. Beghtol's pristine voice drags tortuously over the murky effects. It's hard to distinguish specific instruments because Merritt has buried everything so that it sounds like a blurry mess. Still, it's haunting and somehow melodic. Beghtol seems to relish in the melancholia of it all. His voice engulfs all of the music, sounding at times out of key because Merritt bends the pitch of the music underneath him. "Celebrate The Misery" is not exactly a catchy tune, but as it slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) trudges along it seems to burrow into your skin.
The flip side of the record is a stripped down and, yes, slowed down version of Everything But The Girl's "Another Bridge." The song meanders gently with prominent cello and violin. Beghtol's fragile vocals are again the focus. Only the most patient music fans will be able to sit through this type of self-indulgent despair. It’s almost comical how slow it is. Even Low builds to a crescendo. The closest thing to a crescendo in this song is the twinkling of a distant piano. There's a modern sheen to this music that acknowledges technology, but it's hardly perceptible. Evidently, it takes six people to make this little noise.