Best Seats at the Theatre
The Magnetic Fields’ celebration of love is finally back with its intriguing melodies and witty lyrics. After releasing the last three albums on Nonesuch Records, the band is back on Merge, the same label that put out the highly rated 69 Love Songs trilogy. Love at the Bottom of the Sea sets up a dialogue between different musical scenarios. “God Wants Us To Wait” opens up the work and, as the melody starts, we’re sent on a dance floor. Psychedelic synthesizers reproduce robotic beats while the bass line plays a catchy tune. The music is moving in jerks, as the lyrics sing out a criticism towards our society’s obsession with sex.
The first track also anticipates the band’s new way of using synthesizers in their music. Not as a “melodic instrument […] but as a compositional destructive mechanism,” states Stephin Merritt. In tracks like “Your Girlfriends’ Face” or “All She Cares About is Mariachi,” synthesizers are used as an additional device to enrich the music to create futuristic scenes. Although he reveals his excitement for society’s development of new technologies, Merritt seems to use those in a very simple way, that reminds those of early 80s electronic music.
As the second track begins, we’re suddenly catapulted into a mellower love song, where birds fly over enamored couples riding their bikes to picnic by the river. While music creates naive atmospheres, lyrics seem to be silly or, once again, can be interpreted as a commentary on current issues in our society. “Born for Love” is a romantic serenade of love, while “Your Girlfriend’s Love” analyses and exaggerates another aspect of love: jealousy in relationships. In “The Horrible Party,” Merritt makes fun of bigoted attitude of a girl who goes to a party and can’t enjoy it because “people are shedding their inhibitions and their clothes.” Love at the Bottom of the Sea collects everyday life situations and turns them into funny episodes; catchy tunes set up the mood and accompany more complicated matters. Merritt is the director of his sketches and specializes in what is the most significant concern to human beings: love.