Release Date: May 4, 2004
Record label: Nonesuch
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
After various albums observing love from afar, Stephin Merritt has finally turned his lyrical searchlights on to his own personal life, with 14 songs that all begin with the letter "I". He may be the most insightful love lyricist around, but is clearly disastrous at it - these are songs filled with betrayal, lies and loving people that think he is "sick". As a result, i shifts between Herculean passion and self-mutilating wit.
The explosion of material that resulted in the Magnetic Fields' triple-disc opus 69 Love Songs would've wiped out the average tunesmith, but mastermind Stephin Merritt wields a pen of bottomless ink. Like a long-distance runner, he paced himself, saving up material lest his many guises should grow restless. The 6ths released Hyacinths and Thistles the following year; 2002 saw the sophomore effort from the Future Bible Heroes and the soundtrack to the James Bolton film Eban and Charley; and in 2003 he scored yet another soundtrack, this time to the Katie Holmes drama Pieces of April.
i is 69 Love Songs emendated, sans synths, sadder, and much less tricked-out. In brevity it betters the 1999 boxed set, in songwriting it plateaus. Magnetic Fields have switched from a longstanding tradition of studio wizardry to a fleshed-out four-piece. The instruments played on i are mostly acoustic and, for this band, ordinary – cello, drums, guitar, banjo, electric sitar, piano, harpsichord.