“We are the rats in the garbage of the Western World/So let’s dance” sings Stephin Merritt on the well-named “Rats in the Garbage of the Western World,” a hilariously touching tribute to The Cure that sounds like it was recorded with a Casio toy keyboard in a VW beetle. It’s perfect, but not the best song on this set of Nineties rarities by a dude whose cast-offs trump most bands’ masterworks: That’d be a tie between the drolly sincere ukelele marriage ballad “Forever and a Day” and a remake (w/ singer Susan Anway) of the Magnetic Fields classic “Take Ecstasy With Me.” Yeah, he’s a romantic; a cynic, too. But above all, a songwriter: brilliant, perverse, funny as human nature. Which is pretty damn funny.
Listen to “Forever and a Day”: