516. The Magnetic Fields – “i”

As concept albums go this is one of the least ambitious efforts I can recall. Featuring only songs with titles commencing with “i” (and then listing them in alphabetical order isn’t really a stretch.

If Stephin Merritt was really lazy, he could have simply named fourteen random songs with unrelated titles that comply.

He doesn’t appeared to have cheated on that front, but, irrespective, a singer-songwriter doesn’t have to push too hard to come up with a load of first-person, self-starring lyrics. Not mentioning “I” would have been a bigger ask.

As for the content, the collection is pretty coherent, and with no guest vocalists, much more cohesive than the 69 Love Songs opus. The trade-off is less creativity and whimsy.

At its best, Merritt hits open a few more showtunes that’d please the most critical off-Broadway audience such as I Don’t Believe You, and the Gilbert & Sullivan-like In an Operetta. I Thought You Were My Boyfriend is screaming out for a disco upgrade (and may well have had one already):

There is a bit too much bland fodder on here to warrant much raving, but it is still a worthy entry point into the MF world.

File under: I’ve heard better


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