The Magnetic Fields

Formed 1990.
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The Magnetic Fields - Interview with Marc Riley

Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields joins Marc Riley in the studio.

Featured in BBC Music Clips

Biography

The Magnetic Fields (named after the André Breton/Philippe Soupault novel Les Champs Magnétiques) is an American indie pop group founded and led by Stephin Merritt. He is the group's primary songwriter, producer and vocalist, as well as frequent multi-instrumentalist. The Magnetic Fields is essentially a vehicle for Merritt's songwriting, along with various side-projects, such as The 6ths, Future Bible Heroes and The Gothic Archies. While the particular musical style of the band is usually as malleable as Merritt's songwriting, its songs are commonly attributed to pop genres and subgenres: synthpop, indie pop, and noise pop. The band is often also cited as being recognizable by Merritt's lyrics, often about love and often with irregular or neutral gender roles, that are by turns ironic, tongue-in-cheek, bitter, and humorous.

The band released their debut and best known single "100,000 Fireflies" in 1991, which was typical of the band's earlier career characterized by synthesized instrumentation by Merritt with lead vocals provided by Susan Anway (and then by Stephin Merritt himself from The House of Tomorrow EP onwards). A more traditional band later materialized, currently composed of Merritt, Claudia Gonson, Sam Davol, and John Woo, with occasional guest vocals by Shirley Simms. Their best-known work is the 1999 three-volume concept album 69 Love Songs. It was followed in the succeeding years by a "no-synth" trilogy: i (2004), Distortion (2008), and Realism (2010). The band's most recent album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, was released in 2012.

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Links & Information

BBC Reviews

  1. Review of Love at the Bottom of the Sea

    Love at the Bottom of the Sea 2012

    Reviewed by Camilla Pia
    Ten albums on and Stephin Merritt and company show no signs of drying up.
  2. Review of Realism

    Realism 2010

    Reviewed by Andrew Mueller
    Consistently confirms what an unusually inventive arranger Stephin Merritt is.
  3. Review of Distortion

    Distortion 2008

    Reviewed by Chris Jones
    It's never less than fascinating, but not something you'd return to again and again...
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