By: Eric Greenwood
On 69 Love Songs, Stephin Merritt all but abandoned his signature tinny electronic sound in favor of the baroque setting yielded by cello, guitar, and that unmistakable baritone. Five years later, Merritt revisits his most substantive moniker with a collection of songs linked loosely by the lonely letter i. The synths have all but disappeared save for the bouncy OMD-esque "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend", and The Magnetic Fields now proudly wear their organic instruments as badges, signifying the timeless quality of Merritt's classist songwriting- acerbic, witty, and wry as it may be. The only disappointment is the fact that everything sounds a tad too familiar. You'd think after releasing a colossal collection like 69 Love Songs, you'd return to the game with at least a few new tricks in your bag, but Merritt plays it safe, relying on tried and true devices, both lyrically and musically, to convey his clever rhymes of heartbreak and loneliness.