The Magnetic Fields 

i
Nonesuch

On i,the Magnetic Fields' seventh album, central figure Stephin Merritt recounts seemingly personal tales in the signature deadpan delivery generally preferred by such British figureheads as Pulp's Jarvis Cocker and Gene's Martin Rossiter. With a woe-is-me sentiment and a powerful self-deprecating streak, Merritt puts himself at the butt of his own jokes, which makes them all the more amusing. But numbers such as "I Don't Believe You" and "I Don't Love You Anymore" are earnest in their passion, revealing a more human side to Merritt than his beloved bedroom indie-folk 1999 work, 69 Love Songs, which featured many voices as opposed to just his.

What makes his sad stories here even more melodramatic is their musical accompaniment. "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend" goes further in the synth direction he is somewhat famous for; elsewhere, flamboyant harps, flourish-y pianos, and exaggerated strings make i sound like a spectacular musical staged sometime in the middle of last century. This old-fashioned, borderline histrionic combination of Merritt's bell-like vocal tones and elaborate, spacious orchestration take his love for kitsch to its camp pinnacle. He's so acerbic you probably won't sympathize with him, but you'll somehow like him all the same.

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