Partygoing

Future Bible Heroes, 'Partygoing'

Stephin Merritt's songs still favor the simple structures and clever rhyme schemes of prewar American pop, which is what makes the best Magnetic Fields albums so impressive: Even in the context of routine, he manages to surprise. Lately, though, he has made a routine of surprise, hopping from one self-conscious experiment (songs featuring distortion) to the next (songs starting with "I"). Here he revives synthpop project Future Bible Heroes, armed with yet more rhyming miniatures about hopeless love and the emotional safety of being wasted, sung by him and Claudia Gonson in a deadpan somewhere between flight attendant and bank clerk. His wit is always comforting, but more predictable and less durable than before.

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