Revisiting his favorite subject with his main band, Stephin Merritt delivers 15 synth-pop exercises, all 2:39 or under, savoring love in all its twisted flavors. A straight dude falls for another man in sugary harmony ("Andrew in Drag"), a religious babe cock-blocks her own boyfriend over electro-sputters ("God Wants Us to Wait"), and jealousy blooms every where. The humor wouldn't be as sharp if the arrangements didn't set up the jokes. And while the Magnetic Fields pose as indie rockers, internal rhymes like "Let Laramie take care o' me till they bury me" suggest they've learned something from rappers and honky-tonkers, too.
Listen to "Andrew in Drag":
• Photos: Random Notes