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69 Love Songs
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1999 triple CD album from the Indie/Electronic Pop band led by singer/songwriter Stephin Merritt. Just as the title promises, 69 Love Songs contains just that, most of them sung by Merritt. Guest vocalists include LD Beghtol, Glaudio Gonson, Shirley Simms and Dudley Klute,
Initially conceived as 100 love songs arranged in alphabetical order for theatrical revue performance, Stephin Merritt--indie-pop songsmith and Magnetic Fields spearhead--downsized his ambitious concept project to 69 Love Songs, his first recording under this moniker in four years. Parleyed into three volumes, Merritt, as on other outings, is joined by a rotating cast of musicians including manager Claudia Gonson. These players take on the role of orchestra and cast to Merritt's madcap composer, librettist, and performer, augmenting his lo-fi electronic-based rock with sparkling instrumental touches and narrative vocals for a portion of his absurdly wondrous ditties. Endlessly intriguing, the Fields revisit not only earlier themes of love both shunned and requited, but continue to forge a seemingly impossible synthesis of country-tinged Euro-pop and old-school musical theater. No stranger to melancholy, Merritt's twinkly music-box world, in shades of resplendent violet, is beautifully peopled with incurable romantics who drop pop-culture references and shed gender identity as often as most folks change their underpants. Not surprisingly, 69 Love Songs is delicious defeat on the romance front while pulling ahead as Merritt's most coherently engaging listen. --Paige La Grone
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