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The Magnetic Fields - Realism
Critic Score
Based on 20 reviews
2010 Ratings: #111 / 855
User Score
Based on 15 ratings
January 26, 2010 / Release Date
LP / Format
Nonesuch / Label
Indie Pop / Genres
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The title of the Magnetic Fields’ ninth album, Realism, is, of course, a trap. As a songwriter, singer, and musician, Stephin Merritt has never pretended to deliver Truth in song. Certainly you can listen to his songs the way most people naturally listen to music: react to the sentiment of the lyrics and ‘feel’ the song, but the song is always asking you questions too. The song may be crying with you, but it may be laughing

at you too. Realism is a reminder that pop music is about perceived meaning, about using song-forms as vessels of perception.


In the 10 years since the Magnetic Fields released 69 Love Songs, Stephin Merritt's ornate orchestrations and wry, referential lyrics have gone from indie rock anomalies to NPR staples. And while countless artists have successfully tempered the emotional gratification of "rock" with self-aware sophistication, Merritt continues to defiantly withhold the former. Merritt embraces artifice where other musicians disavow it, willfully avoiding (or outright mocking) gestures at "sincerity" and presenting his songs as stylized works of fiction. Even Merritt's earliest work with the Magnetic Fields found its most devastating moments via lyrical irony and musical footnotes. The Magnetic Fields will never release an "arty indie rock" record, even though they were instrumental in making such records de rigeur.

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#44/Tiny Mix Tapes

Track List

  1. You Must Be Out of Your Mind 
  2. Interlude 
  3. We Are Having A Hootenanny 
  4. I Don't Know What To Say 
  5. The Dolls' Tea Party 
  6. Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree 
  7. Walk a Lonely Road 
  8. Always Already Gone 
  9. Seduced and Abandoned 
  10. Better Things 
  11. Painted Flower 
  12. The Dada Polka 
  13. From a Sinking Boat

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