We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

The Magnetic Fields


Playing the Phil Spector role, auteur Stephin Merritt writes and produces the beautifully lethal combination of Ronettes-style melody and early-O.M.D. electronics that sparkles on The Wayward Bus/Distant Plastic Trees, a reissue of the Magnetic Fields’ first two albums. While most of the music collected here is electronic, the disc is filled with warmth and emotion—this is particularly true of Merritt’s melancholy lyrics, expertly delivered by former lead singer Susan Anway. In the band’s current lineup, Merritt’s baritone mirrors the depressed words he writes, but Anway’s sunny vocals, accompanied by a huge cache of bright, original sampled sounds, also convey the melancholy at the heart of these richly inventive songs. The diamond in this bag of gems is “100,000 Fireflies,” a stark, clear look at the interdependence that develops within relationships.